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Breath vs. Breathe

Some nouns need only an e at the end to become verbs. Breath is one of those, and the sound of the word will lead you to the correct spelling.


  • Let go! I need to breath!
  • His breathe was ragged.
  • You say you don’t want to spread your cold, yet you breath all over me?!


We can easily hear the distinction between these two words. We always pronounce them correctly. However, we don’t appear to see the distinction as we write the words. To take a breath (noun), you need to breathe (verb). If all else fails, read the sentence aloud and you’ll know which spelling you need.


Several other word pairs — cloth and clothe, sooth and soothe, and loath and loathe — follow the same pattern. In each case, the noun (breath or cloth) is pronounced with a strong “th” sound, such as with the word teeth. The verb, however (breathe or clothe or soothe), is pronounced with a soft “the” sound, as in teethe. Do you see what I did there?

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