Difference between breath or breathe

In the exploration of the English language, we often encounter words that are closely related yet distinct in their usage and meaning. Breath and breathe are two such terms that, despite their similar appearance and related concepts, serve different functions in speech. Breath is a noun, denoting the air taken into or expelled from the lungs. On the other hand, breathe is a verb, referring to the action of inhaling and exhaling air through the lungs. This distinction is crucial for proper language use, as it affects how each word is integrated into sentences to convey clear and accurate meanings.

Quick Facts Table

Part of SpeechNounVerb
DefinitionThe air inhaled or exhaled during breathingThe action of taking air into the lungs and then expelling it
UsageUsed to refer to a single act of inhaling or exhalingUsed to describe the process of inhaling and exhaling
ExampleHe took a deep breath.Remember to breathe deeply.

Difference Between “Breath” and “Breathe

Definition of Breath

Breath is a noun that represents the air taken into or expelled from the lungs. It can refer to a single inhalation or exhalation and is often used in contexts that talk about the process of breathing in a more abstract or poetic sense.

Definition of Breathe

Breathe, in contrast, is a verb that describes the physical action of inhaling and exhaling. It involves the movement of air through the respiratory system and is used to indicate the act of breathing itself.

Origin of Breath

Breath comes from the Old English word brǣth, which has meanings associated with the scent, steam, or vapor, as well as the act of breathing. Its roots trace back to breathing’s physical and sensory experiences.

Origin of Breathe

Breathe derives from the Old English brēothan, meaning to breathe or exhale. Like breath, it has ancient origins that connect deeply with life and vitality, emphasizing the action rather than the substance of air.


  • Breath: /brɛθ/ – The word ends with a hard th sound, similar to that in “math.”
  • Breathe: /briːð/ – This word ends with a soft th sound, as in “feather.”

Comparing Breath and Breathe

FunctionNoun (Thing)Verb (Action)
ContextOften used in a poetic or abstract senseDirectly related to the physical process
Suffix-th (indicating a state or condition)-the (indicating an action)
Examples“His last breath was peaceful.”“She learned to breathe calmly.”

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Breath in Sentences

  1. After running, she took a deep breath to calm her racing heart. (Shows the use of breath as the result of an action)
  2. The cold morning air was like a sharp breath against his face. (Uses breath in a poetic sense to describe the sensation)
  3. He could see his breath in the chilly air. (Refers to the visible air exhaled in cold conditions)
  4. Each breath seemed heavier as he climbed higher. (Indicates the increasing effort required to breathe)
  5. The baby’s gentle breath was the only sound in the room. (Describes the act of breathing in a peaceful, descriptive manner)

Use of Breathe in Sentences

  1. When you’re anxious, try to breathe slowly and deeply. (Advises on how to perform the action of breathing)
  2. She couldn’t breathe properly in the stuffy room. (Describes difficulty with the physical process of breathing)
  3. Plants breathe carbon dioxide and release oxygen. (Uses breathe to describe a biological process)
  4. He learned to breathe through his mouth while swimming. (Indicates a specific way of performing the action of breathing)
  5. To meditate, you must focus on how you breathe. (Emphasizes the importance of the action of breathing in meditation)


The distinction between breath and breathe lies in their grammatical roles and meanings: breath as a noun signifies the air involved in breathing, while breathe as a verb describes the action itself. Understanding and using these terms correctly enhances clarity and precision in communication.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What is the main difference between “breath” and “breathe”?
    • Breath is a noun referring to the air inhaled or exhaled, while breathe is a verb meaning to inhale and exhale air.
  • Can “breath” and “breathe” be used interchangeably?
    • No, they cannot be used interchangeably because they belong to different parts of speech and have distinct meanings.
  • How can I remember the difference between “breath” and “breathe”?
    • Remember that breath (with a short “e” and ending in “th”) is the thing you take in or let out, and breathe (with a long “e” and ending in “e”) is the action of doing so.

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