Grammar 9 min read

Breath vs. Breathe: What's the Difference and When to use Each

Main Breath vs. Breathe Takeaways:

  • Breathand breathe are not the same.
  • Breath (without an “e” at the end) is a noun (a breath).
  • Use breath to describe one cycle of breathing.
  • For example, a breath is the air that you take in when you inhale as well as the air that comes out when you exhale (I could see my breath while we played in the snow).
  • Easily make breath plural by adding an “s” (breath >> breaths)
  • Breathe (with an “e” at the end) is a verb (to breathe).
  • Use breathe to describe the act of inhaling or exhaling air.

People often confuse breath with breathe or vice versa. But, what is the right word to use? In this post, we’ll discuss what’s the difference between breath vs. breathe and how to use each word correctly.

Take a deepbreathe and count to five.
Take a deepbreathand count to five.
Justbreatheand have faith that things will work out.
Eachbreathhurts while Valentina is recovering from pneumonia.
Two panels. Left panel shows a woman outside and is cold, bundled up wearing a winter scarf and hat. She's saying, "It's so cold, I can see my breath!" Right panel shows a woman doing yoga. She's saying, "Breathe in, breathe out..."
Breath and breathe mean different things. Breath is a noun, which describes the air that you inhale or exhale. Breathe is a verb, which describes the act of pulling air into your lungs, pushing it out, or both.

What is the Difference Between Breath and Breathe?

The main difference between breath and breath is that breath (no “e” at the end) is noun while breathe (with an “e” at the end) is a verb. On one hand, breath is thing (How long can you hold your breath?). It describes the air that you inhale or exhale. Additionally, it can describe one full cycle of breathing (inhale, then exhale). On the other hand, breathe is an action (Don’t forget to breathe!). It describes the act of pulling air into your lungs, pushing it out, or both. Another difference is how we pronounce these. For example, the breath has a short “e” sound (like wet) compared to the verb breathe’s long “e” sound (like seethe).

Breathein deeply, then exhale slowly and count eachbreath.

The Easiest Way to Remember the Difference Between Breath vs. Breathe:

  1. Remember that one is a noun (breath) and one is a verb (breathe).
  2. Associate the “e” in “verb” with the extra “e” at the end of the verb breathe.
  3. Confirm that word “noun” doesn’t have an “e.” In the same way, the noun breath doesn’t have an “e” at the end.

Is Breath a Homograph? 

No, breath is not a homograph. The word “homograph” originates from the Greek words homós (same) and gráphō (write). It refers to a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. For example, “present” describes the current moment. However, it can also refer to a gift that you give someone. 

While “breathe” and “breath” may look the same at first glance, there’s no “e” at the end of the noun breath. As a result, we can’t describe breath and breathe as homographs. 

Then, there’s a slight difference in pronunciation. 

“Breath” ends with a voiceless “th.” Also, the vowel in the noun is “eh,” the same as the vowel in “pet”. On the other hand, the verb “breathe” has the vowel sound “ee” as in “seethe.” Also, the consonant sound changes to the voiced “th.” 

What is a Synonym for Breath?

Some similar words to breath are inhalation, exhalation, pant, gasp, respiration, wheeze, gulp, snuffle, snort, sniff, and lungful. Others include:

  • Expiration
  • Gulp of air
  • Intake of breath
  • Blowing out
  • Snort

Note that usage of these synonyms may vary depending on the context. 

What Does the Word Breathe Mean?

The word breathe means the act of pulling oxygen and air into the lungs (to inhale) and then pushing gaseous waste like carbon dioxide and water vapor out of the lungs (to exhale). Essentially, the word breathe is a verb we use to describe the act of breathing. Synonym for breathe include respire, inhale, and exhale. In this way, breathe can describe one part of the breathing cycle or the entire cycle. What’s more, some may also use this word to suggest that someone relax or take a pause for reflection.

In short, breathe describes the process of breathing. When you breathe, you inhale or exhale air from your lungs.

😤 Breathe definition:(verb) the act of bringing air into your lungs, then releasing the air.
Breathe with e is a verb. It's the act of inhaling and exhaling. Breath without e is noun. It refers to the full cycle of breathing or the air breathed.
The verb to breathe does have an “e” at the end. On the other hand, the noun breath does not have an “e” at the end.

How to Pronounce Breath vs. Breathe?

Breath has a short ‘e,’ but breathe has a long ‘e’ like the one found in breathing. The middle of breath makes an ‘eh’ sound, like elephant or elevator (breth).The middle of breathe makes an ‘ee’ sound, like tree or peel (breeth). If you see an ‘e’ at the end, that’s a clue to pronounce the word with a long ‘e’ in the middle — breeth.

👂 How to Correctly Say Breath vs. Breathe:

  • Breath pronunciation:breth (should sound similar to the word left)
  • Breathe pronunciation:breeth (should sound similar to the word tree or rhyme perfectly with seethe)

Does Breath Have an “E” at the end?

The verb to breathe does have an “e” at the end. On the other hand, the noun breath does not have an “e” at the end. In this way, you can remember the difference between breath vs. breathe by remembering that one is a noun and one is a verb. Associate the “e” in breathe with the “e” in verb. Similarly, just like breath, the word noun doesn’t have an “e.”

What is the Plural for Breath?

The plural of the noun breath is breaths. Simply add an “s” at the end to describe more than one breath of air.

Paul took several deepbreathsthen knocked on his supervisor’s door.
The doctor said Sue should call if she notices short, shallowbreathsafter starting her new medication.

How do you Spell Breathe in Past Tense?

Spell breathe in past tense as breathed (B-R-E-A-T-H-E-D). You can make the verb breathe past tense simply by adding a “d” at the end of the word.

How do you use Breath and Breathe in a Sentence?

Here are examples of how to use breath and breathe in a sentence:

When youbreatheout of your mouth, you release yourbreath.
He found it hard tobreathein the crowded auditorium; eachbreathwas difficult.
His breath was so awful, I prayed he wouldn’t continue to breathe in my direction.

How do you use Breath in a Sentence?

Here are examples of how to use breath in a sentence:

Diego lost his breathwhen he saw his fiancee descend the stairs in a resplendent evening gown.
Jon gasped forbreathafter an intense game of tag with his nieces and nephews.
Taking a breath is an autonomic function. This means that it happens without us remembering to do it, but we can still take conscious control over the action when we want.
Shortness ofbreathcan be a surprising sign that your blood pressure is too high.
She sighed dramatically then took a couple deepbreathsto to calm herself.
Don’t waste yourbreath explaining where you were. It doesn’t matter.
💨 Use breath in a sentence to refer to the air that your lungs inhaled or exhaled. Since breath is a noun, it describes the result of breathing rather than the act of breathing.

How do you use Breathe in a Sentence?

Here are examples of how to use the verb breathe in a sentence:

Why does your dog breatheso heavily?
Bring an inhaler during your run-in case you struggle tobreathe.
Lucy finds it hard tobreathewhen she’s nervous.
Tyler could hardlybreatheunder his thick Halloween mask.
When anxiety strikes,breathein and out slowly.
😮‍💨Use breathe in a sentence to describe the act of breathing. Since breathe is a verb, it describes an action rather than a thing.

What Does Have a Breath Mean?

The phrases “have a breath” (UK English) or “take a breath” (US English) are idioms that means to pause. In this way, breath usually refers to a relatively short pause for rest or reflection. For example, if you’ve been awake since 5 a.m. running errands non-stop, you might say, “I haven’t even had time to take a breath” or “to breathe.” Or, maybe a colleague is extremely stressed about an upcoming presentation. You might say, “Just have a breathe. Everything will be fine!”

Breath vs. Breathe Idioms

These two words appear in numerous sayings and idioms. This is no surprise since breathing is a core part of virtually all life forms and survival. Here are comprehensive lists of the best breathe and br

List of Breath Idioms:

  • all in one breath
  • be wasting breath
  • breath of fresh air
  • breath of life
  • breath of wind
  • catch my breath
  • curse under breath
  • draw last breath
  • draw your breath
  • gasp for breath
  • get a second breath
  • hold your breath
  • in one breath
  • in the same breath
  • keep your breath
  • out of breath
  • save your breath
  • take a breath
  • take my breath away
  • under your breath
  • waste your breath
  • with bated breath
  • with every breath

List of Breathe Idioms:

  • able to breathe
  • breathe a sigh of relief
  • breathe again
  • breathe down someone’s neck
  • breathe easily
  • breathe easy
  • breathe fire
  • breathe freely
  • breathe into something
  • breathe last
  • breathe last breath
  • breathe life into
  • breathe on
  • breathe upon something/someone
  • breathe your last
  • hardly have time to breathe
  • live and breathe
  • no time to breathe
  • not breathe a word
  • won’t breathe a word

Do you Breathe or Breath? Let’s put Your Knowledge to the Test

Breath vs. Breathe Question #1

“Breath” and “breathe” have the same pronunciation.
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is FALSE. Although breath and breathe have similar meanings, they are pronounced differently.

Breathe Question #2

What part of speech is “breathe?”
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is C. “Breathe” is a verb that describes the act of inhaling or exhaling air.

Breath Question #3

Correct! Wrong!

The answer is A. “Breath” is a noun that describes an inhalation or exhalation of air.

Breath or Breathe Question #4

Jim avoided his boss because he had bad ______.
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is A. “Breath” describes the result of breathing rather than the act of breathing.

Breathe or Breath Question #5

Fishes _____ in water.
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is B. “Breathe” describes an action rather than a thing.

Breath vs. Breathe Quiz Result


Not bad!

Not bad!

Almost got it! Review the article and try again.

Almost got it! Review the article and try again.

Read More: Advice vs. Advise: If you Think They’re the Same, You’re Wrong

Found this article interesting?

Let Pam Weber know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.

Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

Comments (2)
Least Recent least recent
  1. Amal Mohamed December 16 at 8:05 pm GMT
    • Krista Grace Morris December 18 at 3:03 pm GMT
      Hey, Amal! Thanks for your comment and for reading our article. How did you score on the quiz? Cheers!
share Scroll to top

Link Copied Successfully

Sign in

Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.