How to Remember Breathe vs. Breath

breathe vs breath

Mixing up breathe and breath is a really common error. Luckily, there’s an easy way to remember the difference between the verb and the noun.

If you are doing the action (verb) of taking in and letting out air, then use breathe with an E at the end. 

If you are referring to the thing (noun) that you are taking in and letting out, use breath—no E at the end.

To remember the difference, think about the letter E at the end of breathe. Then remember that the word verb has an E, but the word noun doesn’t.

So breathe = verb.

 

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Here are some sample sentences:

Martin was thankful he could breathe deeply when he recovered from his cold.
Francis took a deep breath before he jumped in the pool.

 

Quiz
Test your skills with a quiz. Fill in either breathe or breath in the blanks. The answers are at the bottom.

1. Fish ________ in water.
2. Marcy hated her boss because he had bad _______.
3. Do you think there are aliens who _______ something other than oxygen?
4. The doctors put Uncle George on a respirator because he couldn’t _______ well on his own.
5. Sally couldn’t take a good _______ because the air was filled with smoke.

Answers
1. breathe 2. breath 3. breathe 4. breathe 5. breath.

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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Rack vs. Wrack

a very old wrecked ship sitting on sand

The shipwreck wracked the vessel.

What’s the difference between rack and wrack? Let’s take a look at their definitions, how to use them in popular phrases, and a mnemonic device to help you remember which is which.

Rack as a verb means “to torture or cause great suffering.”
Example: Her anxiety racked her mind.

Have you ever heard of the medieval torture device called the rack? It was a wooden frame with a crank attached to it. When a person was placed on the rack, the torturer would crank the device, stretching the person’s limbs until they dislocated them. Sounds like fun times.

Anyway, that’s where we get this usage of rack. And when we use it, we signify torturing, especially stretching.

Wrack as a verb means “to wreck or ruin something.”
Example: They sat back as they watched pollution wrack their planet.

Wrack comes from a word meaning “to be shipwrecked.” Both of these words have pretty gloomy origins, don’t they?

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Now let’s go over a couple common phrases using one of these words.

Rack your brain
When you rack your brain, you are thinking really hard, stretching your brain’s capabilities. This idea of stretching is why we use rack instead of wrack.

Example: I really racked my brain studying for my chemistry final.

Nerve-racking
Something that is nerve-racking tortures your nerves. This idea of torturing is why we use rack instead of wrack.

Example: I found studying for my chemistry final nerve-racking.

Similar meanings
It’s true that rack and wrack have very similar uses. This is why some dictionaries, such as Merriam-Webster, are advocating for using the words interchangeably and treating them as spelling variants.

Mnemonic device
To remember the difference between rack and wrack think: wrack = wreck. They are only one letter off.

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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Bald-Faced, Bold-Faced, or Barefaced Lie?

Woman's mouth and the text: Lies! Lies! Lies!

What do you call a major lie, one told with total disregard for anyone who might be affected by it? You’ve got a few options. You could call it a barefaced lie, a bald-faced lie, or a bold-faced lie. All of these are technically correct and mean basically the same thing, but bald-faced is, according to Merriam-Webster, “the preferred term in published, edited text.”

Barefaced has been used to describe lies and liars since the 19th century. Bald-faced, meanwhile, emerged in the mid-20th century. Both terms mean an open, unconcealed lie told with no concern for the truth and with an additional implication of rudeness.

The term bold-faced has been around since the 16th century, but it started to be used in this context around the end of the 20th century. It’s possible that the emergence of bold-faced as a modifier for lies and liars corresponds to the increase in the use of bold-faced text during this period.

Barefaced, bald-faced, and bold-faced are all grammatically correct ways to describe lies. Most people don’t use barefaced anymore, and of the remaining two options, the preferred, professional term is bald-faced. Now that’s the truth!

 

This post was written by Maud Grauer. She is a content creator for Dot and Dash. You can read more of her writing on the Dot and Dash blog: www.dotanddashllc.com/blog

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Compliment vs. Complement

compliment vs. complementCompliment and complement sound the same but are spelled differently, so it’s easy to get the two confused in your writing. In this blog post, we’ll discuss their definitions and learn how to remember the two spellings.

Compliment as a verb means saying something nice. As a noun, it means the nice thing that is said.

Examples
Verb: The rat complimented the mouse’s suspenders.
Noun: The rat’s compliment made the mouse smile.

Complement as a verb means to complete. As a noun, it means something that completes.

Examples
Verb: The mouse’s suspenders complemented his outfit.
Noun: The suspenders were the perfect complement to his outfit.

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How to remember the difference
Complement sort of looks like the word complete, and it means to complete.

Think complement = complete.

You can also note that both words have an E in the middle (rather than an I).

Quiz
Fill in the blanks below with compliment or complement. The answers are below.

1. Rupert’s jeweled brooch _______s his look.
2. The expensive car was the _______ to her “perfect” life.
3. Tina _______ed her by saying, “You look hotter than a dead raccoon in the afternoon sun.”
4. Hilda hoped to get an A on the test, which would _______ her semester’s perfect grades.
5. The suitor’s _______ was her favorite part of their date.
Answers:
1. complement 2. complement 3. compliment 4. complement 5. compliment

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of book editing, author coaching, and social media packages.

Sign up for the Dot and Dash newsletter to get writing tips and tricks and exclusive deals.  

Follow Dot and Dash on social media.
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