I was wondering which word works properly in the following scenario while according to the dictionary definition they all should be considered as correct (excepting eat), but I need to make sure which one is more natural in everyday speech and if the word "eat" can be used metaphorically here:

  • The person is reading the context below:

"According to the WHO's reports, the air in this city was found to be the most polluted in 2018. The air in this city contains high levels of dangerous particules, small enough to enter the human bloodstream through the lungs."

And tells himself:

  • That's crazy! I think people are just...............smoke there from down to dusk.

a)inhaling(I don't know if this word is so formal / scientific in this case or not)
c)breathing in(I have no any idea whether this verb requires a preposition here)
d)eating(I don't know whether this verb can figuratively be used here or not)

1 Answer 1


Yes, they are all correct, although I would only use "eating" in the worst-case scenario smog, the kind you can actually taste.

"Breathing" (without "in") is probably used most.

  • Thank you @Borgh, but I was wondering if you could explai a little more about the eating case. It was a little ambiguous "worst case scenario" and "smog"! Do you mean that we can only "eat" a smoke type that can be tasted, so using this verb in this sense is a sort of as overstatement?
    – A-friend
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 13:08
  • 1
    I was talking about "worst case smog", for example see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea_soup_fog as using it for anything but the worst kind of pollution sounds like a bit of hyperbole.
    – Borgh
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 13:37

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