What's the Difference Between Breath and Breathe?

It's a common mistake to confuse the words breath and breathe. Since there is only one letter setting them apart, many make the error of using the wrong one in writing. Once you learn the difference between the two, you can end the confusion and always know which one to use.

breath or breathe breath or breathe
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Defining Breath and Breathe

These two words are related, which is where much of the confusion arises. Apart from that extra "e", the main differences between the words breath and breathe is how they are pronounced and used in a sentence.

The word "breath" is a noun. It is the product of breathing; the air that is inhaled and exhaled (although it can also be a slight breeze or indication). Breath is pronounced with a short e sound. It rhymes with the word "death."

The word "breathe" is a verb. It means to take a breath by inhaling and exhaling. (It can also mean to pause/rest or to say.) Breathe is pronounced with a long e sound. It rhymes with "seethe."

Using Breath and Breathe in a Sentence

Now that you have a good definition, it can be helpful to see both words in action. Check out how “breath” and “breathe” are used in a sentence.

Breath

When it comes to your “breath”, it’s important to know how to use it properly in a sentence. View a few examples:

  • I took a deep breath and tried to relax before giving my speech.
  • Thanks to rumors of an affair, a breath of scandal followed the actor.
  • Even with the windows wide open, not a single breath of air came into the house.
  • It was so cold outside, I could see my breath.
  • He was gasping for breath after running the race.
  • Please wait until I catch my breath!
  • Always brush your teeth well so you can prevent bad breath.
  • I told her not to waste her breath on him since he was never going to change.

Breathe

Take a breath because now it is time to see how to use breathe in a sentence through examples.

  • Fish can breathe underwater since they have gills.
  • It can be difficult to breathe through your nose when you have a cold.
  • She breathed a sigh of relief after the exam was over.
  • Don't breathe a word of this to anyone!
  • I felt like he was breathing down my neck, and it bothered me.
  • With this high altitude, let's stop and take a minute to breathe.
  • She made herself breathe deeply when she felt anxious.
  • He was a devoted fan and lived and breathed football every day of his life.
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Breath and Breathe Idioms and Common Phrases

“Breathe” and “breath” can be found in a lot of different idioms and common phrases. It’s like they are perfectly matched to have fun meanings. Check out some fun phrases and idioms used in English for “breath” and “breathe”.

  • I wouldn’t hold your breath.
  • You’re a breath of fresh air.
  • Give me a minute to catch my breath.
  • I love you more with every breath.
  • My world changed in just one breath.
  • What is she muttering under her breath?
  • Just save your breath.
  • I’ll keep that secret to my last breath.
  • It changes from one breath to the next.
  • It will breathe new life into you.
  • I don’t even have time to breathe.
  • I can’t wait to breathe easily again.
  • Don’t breathe down my neck.
  • As I live and breathe.
  • I can finally breathe easy again.
  • Do not breathe a word to your Dad.

Proper Usage Tips

The following are some simple tips to help you understand when to use breath and when to use breathe:

  • Omit the "e" at the end of the word when you want to use a noun. Use breath to refer to a thing or action, e.g. catch my breath.
  • Add the second letter "e" when you want to use a verb. Use breathe for showing the action, e.g. breathe in deeply.
  • If you are referring to exhaling, use the word with the extra "e" at the end: breathe.

It might help to keep this simple phrase in mind:

You need to take a breath in order to breathe.

Using Breath vs. Breathe

The difference between “breath” and “breathe” isn’t a huge one. But once you know how to use them correctly, then it becomes a lot clearer. Now that you know the difference between “breathe” and “breath”, check out the difference in words like has vs. have.