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Right vs. Rite vs. Wright vs. Write (Grammar Rules)

Learn the differences of right, rite, wright, and write on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

They may all sound the same and have similar spellings, but you can't just write rite and have the right wright. There's a right time to write rite, wright, right, and even write.

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's look at the differences between right, rite, wright, and write to make sure we're using them correctly.

Right vs. Rite vs. Wright vs. Write (Grammar Rules)

Right vs. Rite vs. Wright vs. Write

Right is the most flexible of these four homophones in that it can be used as an adverb, adjective, verb, and noun. It also has several possible meanings. Right can be directional (and also political), as in the opposite of left. Right can mean that something is correct, just, or moral (and/or genuine or proper). A right can also mean a thing that is due to someone, like the right to an attorney or right of free speech. And as a verb, right can mean to avenge, vindicate, or do justice.

(Writing Mistakes Writers Make.)

Rite, on the other hand, is a noun that refers to the words and/or actions of a ceremony or ritual.

Wright is a skilled worker (usually a maker or builder), such as a shipwright, wheelwright, or playwright.

Write is a verb that means to form characters (letters, words, pictures) on a surface (paper, screen, wall) with an instrument (pen, keyboard, fingers). Of course, there are many different connotations for writing, but it all comes down to forming characters on a surface with an instrument.

Make sense?

Here are a few examples:

Correct: He wanted to turn left, but the directions said he should turn right.
Incorrect: He wanted to turn left, but the directions said he should turn rite.
Incorrect: He wanted to turn left, but the directions said he should turn wright.
Incorrect: He wanted to turn left, but the directions said he should turn write.

Correct: Saying the pledge of allegiance was always the first rite of the meeting.
Incorrect: Saying the pledge of allegiance was always the first right of the meeting.
Incorrect: Saying the pledge of allegiance was always the first wright of the meeting.
Incorrect: Saying the pledge of allegiance was always the first write of the meeting.

Correct: She was descended from a long line of wrights, mostly in the shipbuilding industry.
Incorrect: She was descended from a long line of rights, mostly in the shipbuilding industry.
Incorrect: She was descended from a long line of rites, mostly in the shipbuilding industry.
Incorrect: She was descended from a long line of writes, mostly in the shipbuilding industry.

Correct: Write your name before completing the test.
Incorrect: Right your name before completing the test.
Incorrect: Rite your name before completing the test.
Incorrect: Wright your name before completing the test.

I usually like to share pointers for keeping these terms straight. So let's start with the three that have narrower meanings: Take the "rit-" from "rite" to remember it's the words and actions in a "ritual." Remember that a "wright" is a builder or maker, like a shipwright, playwright, or the Wright Brothers. Take the "w" in "write" to think about how most people write "words" (though numbers and images too). After that, you'll almost always go right by using the word right.

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