Breathe Vs. Breath: What Is The Difference?

dark green text "breath vs breathe" green background

Quick summary

The words breathe and breath are used in the same context (breathing), but breathe (pronounced [ breeth ]) is a verb, while breath (pronounced [ breth ]) is a noun.

The words breath and breathe are only one letter apart and have very similar meanings, so it can be easy to get them confused. 

In this article, we will define the words breath and breathe, explain how they are used differently, identify some words with a similar pattern, and provide examples that show how we typically use breath and breathe in sentences. 

breath vs. breathe

The word breath is a noun that typically refers to the air that is inhaled and exhaled, the act of inhaling and exhaling, or the ability to inhale and exhale. 

For example:

  • It was so cold that we could see our own breath.
  • He took a deep breath before doing yoga.
  • She was completely out of breath when she finished the race. 

The word breathe is a verb that typically means “to inhale and exhale air.” It also has figurative meanings, such as “to pause” or “to infuse.” The past tense of breathe is breathed, and the present participle form is breathing

For example:

  • We breathed the fresh morning air as we stepped outside. 
  • The president needed a quick moment to breathe in between answering all of the reporters’ questions. 
  • The arrival of the clowns breathed life into the birthday party.
  • Rapid breathing can be a sign of pneumonia. 

To help keep breath and breathe straight, remember that breath is only used as a noun, breathe is only used as a verb, and both breathe and verb have an e in them.

There are a few other verbs that end in –the that follow the same verb/not-verb pattern as breathe and breath, such as:

  • clothe (verb), cloth (noun)
  • bathe (verb), bath (noun)
  • teethe (verb), teeth (noun)
  • sheathe (verb), sheath (noun)
  • loathe (verb), loath (adjective)

Examples of breathe and breath in a sentence

Let’s catch our breath before we look at some sentences that show how we typically use breath and breathe.

  • We took a big breath of air before we dove underwater. 
  • The air was so thick with smoke that I could barely breathe.
  • The knights promised to guard the princess until their last breath. 
  • Jenny promised not to breathe a word about the surprise party to anyone. 
  • Whales cannot breathe underwater, so they need to take big breaths of air on the surface every once in a while.

Did you know one of the longest English words is a disease caused by breathing in silica dust?

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