Breathe vs Breath | Meaning, Difference & Examples

Commonly Confused Words updated on  January 9, 2024 2 min read
Breathe and breath are related words that look similar but have different grammatical uses.

  • Breathe (verb) refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling air. It is pronounced [breeth].
  • Breath (noun) describes the air that gets inhaled and exhaled during breathing. It is pronounced [breth].
You can distinguish between these words by remembering that many verbs in English end in “e” when there’s a related noun (e.g., “teethe”/“teeth”).


Examples: Breathe in a sentence

Examples: Breath in a sentence

Calm down! Breathe in and breathe out.

Make sure to hold your breath when you dive into the pool.

The doctor sent her straight to hospital after hearing her labored breathing.

My breath smelled minty fresh because of the chewing gum.

You made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe.

After running for five miles, I had to catch my breath.

The QuillBot Grammar Checker will fix this and other common mistakes automatically.


How to use the verb breathe

The verb breathe is used to refer to the act of inhaling and exhaling air. It’s also used to refer to something that allows air to pass through it or to something that’s exposed to air.


Examples: Breathe in a sentence
I need some room to breathe!
Don’t forget to open the windows and let your stuffy room breathe for a while.
You have to let fine wines breathe before you serve them.


Breathe is also used in many idioms, both in its infinitive and present participle form. To create the latter, you omit the last “e” and add the suffix “-ing” to the end of the word. The word is still pronounced with a long “e” sound [breething].

Idiom

Meaning

My boss is such a micromanager. He’s constantly breathing down my neck.

To put pressure on someone

After the divorce papers were signed, she could finally breathe freely.

To be relieved

I love how you’ve breathed new life into this house by renovating the ground floor!

To revive something

How to use the noun breath

Breath is a noun used to describe the air you inhale and exhale while breathing. It’s also used in a number of expressions.

Idiom

Meaning

What did you just say under your breath?

Quietly or inaudibly

That new principal is a breath of fresh air!

Someone or something that brings a refreshing change

I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you. They always disappoint.

Don’t expect something to happen; keep your expectations low

Breathe vs breath quiz

Test your knowledge of the difference between “breathe” and “breath” by filling in a form of “breathe” or “breath” in every sentence.

Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Commas

Parts of speech

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Comma before because

Nouns

Flier vs flyer

Comma before such as

Collective nouns

Its vs it’s

Comma splice

Verbs

Use to or used to

Comma before or after but

Noun clauses

Alright vs all right

Comma before too

Predicate nominative

Affective vs effective


Frequently asked questions about breathe vs breath

How do you pronounce breath?

The noun breath refers to the air that gets inhaled and exhaled during breathing. It’s pronounced with a short “e” sound: [breth].

“Breath” is closely related to the verb “breathe.” However, breathe and breath are pronounced differently and have different grammatical roles.

How do you pronounce breathe?

The verb breathe refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling air. It’s pronounced with a long “e” sound: [breeth].

“Breathe” is closely related to the noun “breath.” However, breathe and breath are pronounced differently and have different grammatical functions.

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Julia Merkus

Julia has master's degrees in Linguistics and Language and speech pathology. Her expertise lies in grammar, language and speech disorders, foreign language learning, and child language acquisition.

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