The Problematic “e”

If you’re a chess (not chest) player, you’ll know that the pawn is the smallest piece on the chess board. It is considered a “weak” piece as it could move only one step at a time – forward only – unlike the bishop, queen or rook that could glide across the board – backward and forward – with ease. However, if you know the rules of the game, you’ll also know that the pawn is the only piece that could be exchanged for a queen, rook or knight if it manages to reach the opposite end of the board safely (without being captured). Such is the power of the little “powerless” pawn – it is small, but it can cause a lot of damage.

In the English language, the letter “e” may be insignificant, but it causes lots of confusion in terms of use and pronunciation.

Yesterday, a friend said to me: “I’m going to bath” when it’s supposed to be “I’m going to bathe.

I can think of only two words with this problem:

  • bath (n.) – bath(v.)
  • breath (n.) – breath(v.)

Notice that by adding the little “e” at the end of the words, they have become verbs. Interesting but confusing, huh?