Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Breath or breathe?

with 2 comments

The cartilaginous passageways (the bronchi and...
Image via Wikipedia

‘Breathe’ means to take air into our lungs and then expel it. To be technical, it is a verb (an ‘action’ or ‘doing’ word), as in:

When I breathe deeply I feel better.

‘Breath’ is the name given to the air we breathe. To be technical, it is a noun (the name of something), as in:

She ate a mint to make her breath sweeter.

So, it is correct to write:

He is short of breath during the day and finds it difficult to breathe at night.

More commonly confused words

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Written by Wordwatch

04/12/2009 at 3:25 pm

2 Responses

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  1. This is another of those made-up pairings, isn’t it? Like when you tried to tell us that loath and loathe were different words? And then mentioned “loth,” which I’m pretty sure is Norse?

    Michael Farrell

    27/03/2010 at 4:12 am

    • Er — call me dense (because it’s true) but I don’t quite understand what you mean? Come back soon and let me know so I can make an astonishingly clever and witty reply.

      Deborah

      27/03/2010 at 8:33 am


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