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breath vs breathe

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Story Moderator
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The misuse of 'breath' and 'breathe' is probably low on most writer's list of thing to get right. However, there seems to be more mis-use than usual and since keen-eyed editors are always after minor errors to excuse their rejecting our priceless work, here's the difference from a pronunciation perspective.

breath: ex. "She took a deep breath."
breathe: ex. "She couldn't breathe."

I'll leave it to any members of the SAGP (Self-Appointed Grammar Police) who might be lurking to give an explanation for the difference.

No need to thank me. Just another fine, free service of, No Hope of Publication, ent.

Active Ink Slinger
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thank you, great example. Another: She took a deep breath, hoping to be able to breathe through the smog.
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Quote by Rumple_deWriter
The misuse of 'breath' and 'breathe' is probably low on most writer's list of thing to get right. However, there seems to be more mis-use than usual and since keen-eyed editors are always after minor errors to excuse their rejecting our priceless work, here's the difference from a pronunciation perspective.

breath: ex. "She took a deep breath."
breathe: ex. "She couldn't breathe."

I'll leave it to any members ... who might be lurking to give an explanation for the difference.

No need to thank me. Just another fine, free service of, No Hope of Publication, ent.



The explanation of the difference is quite simple, but adds to the importance of correct usage for each of the words.

breath - noun

breathe - verb

For those who need further explanation as to the difference between a noun and a verb, I'll leave it to someone else to fill in the gaps.


The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Junius



Unknown User
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I didn't know people had problems with this... O.o
Story Moderator
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Thanks, Gypsy. Rebellious, I'm not sure if many writers are making this mistake, or if I'm just picking up on this mis-use. The thing is, being blind, I use a screen reader to hear what's on my computer screen. As I listen to stories, the text-to-speech reader correctly pronounces the words, making their mis-use obvious...even to an old blind dude, so to speak. ;)

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Quote by Rumple_deWriter
Thanks, Gypsy. Rebellious, I'm not sure if many writers are making this mistake, or if I'm just picking up on this mis-use. The thing is, being blind, I use a screen reader to hear what's on my computer screen. As I listen to stories, the text-to-speech reader correctly pronounces the words, making their mis-use obvious...even to an old blind dude, so to speak. ;)



With that you nail a particular aspect of the English language.

It is deceptively simple, but actually quite complex.

There are pronunciation rules in English, and then, hold on! there are the exceptions, irregularities, and then stuff you just need to know about, based on however long you've been acquainted with the language, what sort of background you have, what your schooling was, and so on and on and on and so forth and will it ever end no it won't why are you even asking that argghhhh!!!!

As an example, listen to this:

Close the door.

Are you close to the door?

The pronunciation of "close" is significantly different in each sentence, but each are correct.

How do you teach this?

With difficulty.

Can it be codified?

Not easily.

What is the answer?

There isn't one. Just listen and hear and think and learn.


The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Junius



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Quote by AnnaMayZing
To breathe is the result of taking a series of breaths.


The correct use of breathe and breath simply put. The distinction between bathe and bath is similar. In both cases the verb has the final 'e'.
Active Ink Slinger
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I'm outta breath!! Seriously, I can't breathe!

Both words look really strange sometimes when I type them, I have no idea why smile
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Another - and to me, inexplicable - grammar error I have come across is the use of 'alot' for 'a lot'. Why?

There are numerous examples of misuse or incorrect word usage. The problem (in my opinion) lies in how one speaks. If your diction is poor the likelihood is your written grammar will be also. I have noticed this trend in emails and texts I receive whereby the author uses poor grammar - or writes how he or she speaks. What's the answer? I have no idea. It's a cross we all have to bear I guess...
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i am guilty of making that mistake when I was younger
Her courage was her crown and she wore it like a queen -Atticus
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Quote by Rebellious_Soul
I didn't know people had problems with this... O.o


Auto correct and Grammarly can't tell the two apart. Never trust them
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If you can't breathe, you've run out of breath - and nothing matters after that!
Rookie Scribe
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I wonder what it is with "breathe" and "breath". Whatever it is, "lose" and "loose" are serial offenders as well.
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I believe breathe was the original spelling of breath.
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You are all taking my Breath away with all the wonderful chatter. I think I shall go bathe and I won't forget to close the door. Now remember to Breathe deep when you loosen up for stretches and limbering up. This may be my first day here, but I can already tell I'm gonna like it here. Nice to meet you all.