Language tip of the week: breath vs breathe

Posted by on September 13, 2011

Language learners may have already discovered our new Learn English Facebook Page and @MacLearnEnglish Twitter feed, which feature those very essential red words taken from the Macmillan Dictionary.

In this weekly microblog, we’ll bring to English language learners even more useful content from the dictionary. These tips will be based on areas of English (e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, etc) which learners often find difficult.

This week: breath vs breathe

Don’t confuse breath (a noun) and breathe (a verb).
Breath is pronounced /breθ/ and means ‘the air that goes in and out of your body through your nose or mouth’:
I could smell whisky on his breath.
Breathe is pronounced /briːð/ and means ‘to take air into your lungs through your nose or mouth and let it out again’:
✗ Without plants, we could scarcely breath.
✓ Without plants, we could scarcely breathe.
✗ These children have to breath contaminated air.
✓ These children have to breathe contaminated air.

Would you like to improve your English more by looking at similar examples? Check the spelling and listen to the pronunciation of these noun/verb pairs:

bath / bathe
cloth / clothe
sheath / sheathe
wreath / wreathe
teeth / teethe
BUT note:
mouth / mouth

More language tips

Browse the list under the ‘language tips‘ tag here on the blog for more useful language tips.

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