How Do You Spell Right? : Using Homophones

How do you spell right? It’s a funny question with a double meaning. To spell right, there are several rules in English that you must know. But to spell the word “right”, one of these concepts you need to understand is homophones.

What Is a Homophone?

Homophones are words that have similar sounds, but different spellings and/or meanings. Part of what makes English so confusing is that the language is full of these.

A perfect example is the word “right”. There are several words that sound the same. You can have:

Rite – a ritual or act, usually done for ceremonial or religious purposes

Wright – someone specializing in a field, e.g. playwright.

Write – to commit words to physical form

And all of them have different meanings to the word “right”. “Right” can be an adjective or a noun. In its noun form it can mean the special privilege to do something. In its adjectival form, it can describe a state of being, e.g. “right as rain”. It can also describe a direction.

But we are still left with the question.

Photo by Andrea De Santis on Unsplash

How Do You Spell “Right”?

The answer is that it depends on which one you happen to need at the time.

If you are talking abou the “right” to bear arms, or the “right” of way when you are driving down a particular street, then you are spelling that particular “right” correctly.

With homophones, meaning and context matter.

The “gh”ost of Middle English

To add to the confusion, there was a point that many words in the English Language actually pronounced that “gh” sound.

Research shows that point was around the years 1150 to 1450 AD. This was when “right” started to be spelled with a “gh”. This was because everyone who spoke English at the time made this sound.

Note that this stopped around the mid 1400s. This is just around the time of the printing press and the arrival of standardized spellings. It’s also when Middle English began to be influenced by other additions.

People stopped pronouncing the “gh” sound. However, because spellings were now standardized, “gh” remained in many words, including “right”.

To Wrap Up

Reading the above, you realise that there are many ways to spell “right”. It depends on the one you want. “Right” also has a particular set of consonants because of the English Language’s interesting history.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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