Breathe vs. Breath – How To Distinguish Them

02.09.23 Commonly confused words Time to read: 4min

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When composing an academic paper, you may encounter commonly confused words. This can impact the excellence of your paper, since academic writing requires clarity and precision to convey arguments effectively. The words “breathe” and “breath” often cause confusion due to their similar spellings. Many authors use them interchangeably, even though they are not synonyms for one another. It’s important to understand the distinction between “breathe” vs. “breath” right away.

Definition of “breathe vs. breath”

Although “breathe” and “breath” differ only by one sign and entail similar meanings, they represent some of the most often confused words in academic writing. The core meaning of both words refers to the action of inhaling and exhaling and the air that is being inhaled or exhaled.

Breathe

… is a verb describing the action of inhaling and exhaling.

Breath

… is a noun that represents the air that is being inhaled or exhaled.

It is important to focus on the surrounding context to distinguish between the two words. If you aim to use a verb in your sentence or indicate the action, then you use “breathe”. If you refer to the air that is taken in or expelled during the process of breathing, you use “breath”.

Using the word “breathe”

The word “breathe” is only used as a verb. This will be outlined in the following.

“Breathe” as a verb

“Breathe” functions as a verb in English grammar. It is used to indicate the action of inhaling and exhaling air.

Examples

  • She paused to breathe deeply before delivering her speech.
  • The doctor advised him to breathe slowly to calm his nerves.
  • It’s important to remember to breathe regularly during meditation to stay focused.

Tip for using “breathe” correctly

Using synonyms of the word “breathe” can add variety to your writing, avoid repetition, and help you convey your ideas in a more nuanced way. Here are four synonyms for “breathe” along with example sentences.

Synonyms Example
Exhale He breathed long as the stress of the day melted away.
He exhaled long as the stress of the day melted away.
Inhale She closed her eyes and breathed the fragrant flowers deeply.
She closed her eyes and inhaled the fragrant flowers deeply.
Pant After running up the stairs, he was left breathing.
After running up the stairs, he was left panting.
Respire The scuba diver used the oxygen tank to breathe comfortably underwater.
The scuba diver used the oxygen tank to respire comfortably underwater.

Using the word “breath”

The word “breath” is only used as a noun. This grammatical function will be outlined in the following.

“Breath” as a noun

“Breath” functions as a noun in the English language. It refers to the air that is inhaled and exhaled during the process of breathing.

Examples

  • His exhausted breath was visible in the cold winter air.
  • The aroma of freshly baked bread took her breath.
  • After climbing the steep hill, she struggled to catch her breath.

Tip for using “breath” correctly

Using synonyms of “breath” can help you vary your language, prevent repetition, and enhance the overall quality of your writing. In the following, there will be synonyms of the word along with example sentences.

Synonyms Example
Exhalation As he let out a slow breath, he felt a sense of calm wash over him.
As he let out a slow exhalation, he felt a sense of calm wash over him.
Inhalation With each deep breath, she filled her lungs with the mountain air.
With each deep inhalation, she filled her lungs with the mountain air.
Puff A gentle breath of wind carried the scent of flowers through the window.
A gentle puff of wind carried the scent of flowers through the window.
Sigh She let out a heavy breath of relief when she finally finished the task.
She let out a heavy sigh of relief when she finally finished the task.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

To test your ability to differentiate between “breathe” and “breath”, complete the 10 sentences by filling in the blank spaces. Afterward, refer to the second tab for the correct answers to confirm your comprehension.

  1. She took a mument to ____ deeply and calm her racing heart.
  2. The rhythmic sound of her ____ was the only thing she could hear in the silent room.
  3. After the intense workout, he struggled to catch his ____.
  4. The soothing waves helped her relax and sync her _____.
  5. The baby’s gentle ____ were a sign of peaceful sleep.
  6. The yoga instructor guided the class to ____ in through their noses and out through their mouths.
  7. The fresh forest air was invigorating, and he took a deep ____ to savor it.
  8. She felt a sense of relief as she let out a long, cleansing ____.
  9. The chilly wind made it hard to ____ comfortably.
  10. The doctor reassured the patient that their shortness of ____ could be managed with treatment.
  1. She took a mument to breathe deeply and calm her racing heart.
  2. The rhythmic sound of her breath was the only thing she could hear in the silent room.
  3. After the intense workout, he struggled to catch his breath.
  4. The soothing waves helped her relax and sync her breathing.
  5. The baby’s gentle breaths were a sign of peaceful sleep.
  6. The yoga instructor guided the class to breathe in through their noses and out through their mouths.
  7. The fresh forest air was invigorating, and he took a deep breath to savor it.
  8. She felt a sense of relief as she let out a long, cleansing breath.
  9. The chilly wind made it hard to breathe.
  10. The doctor reassured the patient that their shortness of breath could be managed with treatment.

FAQs

Remember the following:

  • “Breathe” is the action of inhaling and exhaling.
  • “Breath” is the noun representing the air that is inhaled or exhaled.

The word “breathe” contains the letter “e” at the end, which is also present in the word “exhale”. Both words are verbs related to the action of breathing. On the other hand, “breath” contains the letter “a”, which you can associate with the “air” that we inhale and exhale when we breathe.

Breathe is a verb that indicates the action of inhaling and exhaling air.

  • Example: She paused to breathe deeply and calm her nerves before the big presentation.

Breath represents a single inhalation or exhalation of air.

  • Example: After climbing the steep hill, he struggled to catch his breath.
  • “Breathe” is pronounced as /briːð/ (rhymes with “seethe”)
  • “Breath” is pronounced as /breθ/ (rhymes with ”death”).

The correct phrase is: “I can’t breathe.”

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