Spelling Is Important

A 1-post collection

Writer Rants: Breath vs Breathe

This is one of the ones that chafes my niblets something fierce.

Ranting in three… two…

I’ll get this out of my system, now, and move on to more civilised discussion with a clear head.



Aaaahh. I feel so much better.

I am sick and tired of people treating “breath” and “breathe” as interchangeable whenever they write. So let me make it clear.

“Breath” is a noun. It is a thing. As in, “[Character] struggled for one more, final breath.” Or, “She had to catch her breath, as it had a habit of running away from her.”

“Breathe” is a verb. It is something a living thing does. As in, “I can’t breathe!” Or, “[Character] found themselves unable to breathe when too many people were around.”

The confusion, I suppose, arises when there are much more common usages like “breathing” around. The root of the word is most obviously “breath” and the English language does not give hints and tips when you’re looking for the origin.

Unless you use a handy tome like a dictionary, or even a nice reference guide like dictionary.com to check up on the little things. And it has a handy thesaurus attached, so you can look up synonyms.

Just remember, American spelling may not be your spelling. Always double-check with a local-source dictionary if you aren’t sure.

I can understand non-english-speakers making this mistake. They get a free pass because English is one of those bitchy languages that nicks things from other languages and then pretends it was theirs all along, no really, they’ve owned it for years and learn to spell it our way or fail forever.

What I don’t understand is why otherwise fluent people who were apparently steeped in English [this being the internet, one can’t truly tell] can NOT fucking spell “breathe” properly.

As I said earlier, it chafes my niblets.

I see tons of it in fanfic. Excusable because the author may just be twelve.

I see lots of it in amateur writing. Not excusable because you should be enough of a word nerd to have found this out by now.

If you want to be an author, you have to at least know how to fucking spell. Otherwise, you will labor forever under the ‘lesser’ moniker of Writer and continually wonder why editors call you out on your spelling all the time.

This is not one of those piddly snobbish things like “blond” versus “blonde” [The E is girls only, so I’ve heard] nor something that can affordably be ignored like all my other crazy babblings. It’s the difference between a thing and an action.

That’s a big difference caused by a little thing.

One E can change your world, how you’re viewed as a writer or artist, and whether or not your manuscript gets accepted.

I know it sure as hell trips up my ability to read a work in a coherent manner.

Usually because I have to stop and yell at the page.