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Breath or Breathe? Know The Difference & Correct Usage

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“Breath v/s Breathe” Hmmm…. Yet another infamous verb-noun duo of the English languages that confuses us and keeps us at a stand. But, really, which one is correct? Do I breathe or do I breath? That one extra “e” in “breathe” must do something more than just adding the confusion!

The difference between ‘Breath‘ and ‘Breathe‘:

Part of Speech
Breath‘ is a noun.Breathe‘ is a verb. The infinitive form of the verb ‘To Breathe
MeaningThe noun ‘Breath‘ means puff – the air inhaled-exhaled.The verb “To breathe” is used to denote an action of inhaling and exhaling – the physiological process.
ExampleFor example, “He took a deep breath.”For example, “He is breathing slowly.”
UsageBeing a noun, ‘Breath‘ can be used with an article & an adjective.

In the above example, “a” is an indefinite article while “deep” is the adjective that describes “some quality” of the noun “Breath”.
Being a verb, ‘Breathe‘ can be used with an adverb.

In the above example, “slowly” is an adverb that describes the quality of action (breathing) “being performed in a particular way”.

Not only their pronunciation is different, but they are also different parts of speech too.  Breathe is a verb, which means the process of inhaling and exhaling. Eg: We need to breathe to live. Whereas, breath is a noun, which means the complete cycle of breathing. Eg: Sam took a long breath and blew out the candles. 

Breath Vs Breathe- Pronunciation And Grammar

Breathe is a verb, it is pronounced as ‘breeth’. It is pronounced with a long e sound. It rhymes with ‘teeth’. It is the action of inhaling and exhaling breath. 

Breath is a noun, pronounced as ‘breth’. It is pronounced with an eh sound. It rhymes with ‘Macbeth’ a famous play by Shakespeare. It is the air that we inhale and exhale. 

The main difference between breath and breathe lies in the fact that they are different parts of speech. Breath i.e. the shorter one is a noun, while, breathe i.e. the longer one is a verb. They have various meanings and are used in many idioms and phrases.

“On a cold day, you can see your breath when you breathe”. This sentence will easily differentiate between breath and breathe. Let’s get a little grammatical. Put on your glasses, we’re going to nerd it up. In this sentence, ‘breath’ is a noun, it is the steam that we see on a cold day. However, ‘breathe’ is the verb, it is the action that we do, which makes us see the steam or ‘breath’.  

How To Use Breath, The Noun

According to Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, ‘breath’ is ‘the air that you take into your lungs and send out again’. Breath can imply the air that we blow or take in and the ability to take the air in. It is used in various phrases like ‘a breath of fresh air’ or ‘hold one’s breath’.

How To Use Breathe, The Verb

‘Breathe’ is a verb, and as per Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, it means ‘to take in air into your lungs and send it out again through your nose or mouth’. It can be used both as an intransitive and transitive verb. An example of its usage as an intransitive verb is, ‘She was breathing heavily after the swimming race.’ Here, it is used to denote the act of taking in air into the lungs. An instance of its usage as a transitive verb is, “‘Do not breathe a word of this to Smith.’ Alex told Henry.” In this sentence, it is used in a sense to encourage silence, to keep a secret. 


Breathe is a verb, so it has past and past participle forms.


Breath And Breathe in Idioms

For example, in Past form, it can be used as ‘She breathed in the salty ocean air.’ In Past Participle form, it can be used as ‘While we have had breathed a sigh of relief, he remained anxious.’

There are many idioms that use the word ’breath’ and ‘breathe’. Examples of a few of them are as follows:


  • Slow down and catch your breath.
  • Save your breath, don’t bother giving me any reasons.
  • Sally was like a breath of fresh air in the dull office.
  • ‘Stop muttering under your breath!’ the Principal said as he scolded the student.


  • Tonight the old man breathed his last.
  • Can you not breathe down my neck?
  • Sam lives and breathes basketball.
  • I can finally breathe freely.

Proper Usage Tips

To remember which is breath and which is breathe, just remember, the one with ‘E’ at the end is the verb. ‘E’ is common to both, breathe and verb. The one with no ‘e’ is the noun. Keep practicing and you’ll ace it.

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