donotbreathsignJudging from this sign I saw recently on a computer terminal at an eatery, I’m not the only one who has to stop and think about when to use breath and when breathe is the right choice.

Let me clear up the confusion for the sign writer and anyone else who needs some help with these commonly confused pairs:

Breath is a noun. It’s the thing you take in when you inhale and let out when you exhale.

“Take a deep breath,” the doctor said as he placed the stethoscope on my back.

Breathe is a verb. It’s what you do when you take a breath.

Breathe through your nose to avoid getting a dry throat.

Here’s a device to help you get the spelling right:

breathe (the verb) has two e’s, breath (the noun) only one.

And don’t forget breadth. It’s also a noun. It means distance.

The prince traveled the length and breadth of the land looking for the princess.

Now, isn’t it a breath of fresh air to have that cleared up?

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