The Difference Adding an –e Makes
Not only does adding an e at the end of a word change the pronunciation in many cases, it also changes the meaning of the word entirely. This is an all-too-common mistake that we thought was worth bringing attention to. This is also a case where autocorrect doesn’t have your back. Because, with or without an e, these words aren’t misspelled. So it’s up to you to know the differences. And we’re here to show you.
To illustrate these differences, the following examples will be used to demonstrate the impact of adding an e:
breath vs. breathe
suit vs. suite
sever vs. severe
heroin vs. heroine
As far as pronunciation goes (except in heroin/heroine), the words with an e at the end use the long e sound (as in tree or free). So, in this case, breath rhymes with death whereas breathe has the long E sound, as in steed.
Suite sounds like sweet whereas suit rhymes with boot.
Sever rhymes with never, and severe rhymes with fear.
Now to distinguish the meanings:
Breath is a noun, referring to an inhalation. She took a deep breath before proceeding to give her speech.
Breathe is a verb, referring to the action of taking breaths. Don’t forget to breathe in between sit-ups.
Suit refers to the tailored set of clothes (comprised of pants, a vest and jacket). He wore his power suit to the meeting.
Suite is an individual unit within a set of things grouped together, like a hotel suite or apartment suite. He ordered the presidential suite for his honeymoon.
Sever is a verb, meaning to completely divide or slice something off. The head was severed from the body.
Severe is an adjective that describes something very intense or harsh. She was in severe pain after her car accident.
These two are definitely not to be confused. Heroin refers to the highly addictive opiate drug, whereas heroine refers to a female hero. Be extra careful when making this distinction.
Although e is the most commonly occurring letter in the English language, it’s not to be overlooked. Watch your e usage and dodge those pesky typos.