Difference between “Breath” and “Breathe” in English

Difference between "Breath" and "Breathe" in English.

What is the difference between “Breath” and “Breathe” in English?

English is exceptionally rich in words that may sound similar or have similar spellings but carry distinct meanings and usage. Among such words are “breath” and “breathe.” At first glance, these words may seem identical, but they serve different functions in a sentence and hold different meanings. “Breath” (ending with “th”) is a noun that refers to the air you inhale and exhale from your lungs (After running, I had heavy breath). On the other hand, “breathe” (ending with “the”) is a verb describing the act of breathing (She couldn’t breathe because of the heavy smoke). Many English learners often confuse the words “breath” and “breathe” due to their similarity. However, they have entirely different senses, and it is crucial to comprehend this distinction. Let’s delve into the details of the differences between “breath” and “breathe.”

Breath is a noun in English

“Breath” is a noun used to denote the process of inhalation and exhalation in physiology, as well as to describe the amount of air breathed in or out. For example:

  • Take a deep breath before diving into the pool.
  • He could feel the cold breath of winter.

This word can also be used metaphorically to convey a sense of lightness or moment, for instance:

  • The painting gives a breath of life to the room.

Breathe is a verb in English 

“Breathe” is a verb that describes the act of breathing. This word has various tense forms depending on its usage in a sentence. For example:

  • Remember to breathe slowly during your meditation.
  • Plants breathe through their leaves.

Additionally, “breathe” can be used metaphorically, indicating the need for relaxation, relief, or a sense of ease:

  • After the exams, I could finally breathe easy.

The main difference between Breath and Breathe

So, the main distinction is that “breath” ([breθ]) is a noun that signifies breathing or the air inhaled or exhaled. For example:

  • The fresh air helped me catch my breath

While “breathe” ([bri:ð]) is a verb that describes the process of breathing. For example:

  • Don’t forget to breathe deeply when you feel nervous.

Pronunciation and usage of Breathe and Breath

The difference in pronunciation lies in the fact that “breath” ends with a hard, voiceless sound [θ], as in the word “math,” while “breathe” ends with a soft, voiced sound [ð], as in “this.” In writing, the distinction is just one letter, but it fundamentally alters the part of speech and pronunciation of the word. Noticeably, the “e” at the end of the word “breathe” not only changes its pronunciation but also signals that it is a verb.

Remember how to distinguish:

  • “Breath” (with the ending “th”) is a noun, and this word sounds shorter.
  • “Breathe (with the ending “the”) is a verb, and it is pronounced with a longer /i:/ sound.

Knowing the differences between “breath” and “breathe” will help you use these words correctly in English and avoid common mistakes.

Check yourself whether you understand how to correctly use the words Breath and Breathe in practice

Read the sentences and fill in the missing word “breath” or “breathe”:

1.  After climbing to the mountain peak, she took a deep ________ to enjoy the fresh air.

Answer (1)
  • breath

2. It’s important to ________ slowly and steadily during yoga to enhance relaxation.

Answer (2)
  • breathe

3. The underwater explorer held his ________ as he dived into the deep sea.

Answer (3)
  • breath

4. In moments of stress, it’s helpful to pause and take a mindful ________ to calm your nerves.

Answer (4)
  • breath

5. Swimmers need to learn how to control their ________ while swimming underwater.

Answer (5)
  • breath

6. Before starting the presentation, take a moment to ________ deeply and calm your nerves.

Answer  (6)
  • breathe
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