Rite or Right – What’s the Difference?

In a language that is full of homophones, rite and right are two of the most confusing. Each of these words has more than one meaning, so remembering the difference between them is no easy task. Plus, right can be several parts of speech, which doesn’t help matters.

Despite all these uses, rite and right can never be substituted for each other. You will need to keep track of these separate meanings to use them correctly. Luckily, there is an easy way to remember which word is which.

What is the Difference Between Rite and Right?

In this post, I will compare right vs. rite. I will include example sentences for each, so you can see how they look in context.

Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that you can use to remember whether right or rite is word you need.

When to Use Rite

rite versus rightWhat does rite mean? Let’s start with the simpler of the two: rite. Rite can only be a noun, and it has a somewhat limited scope.

Its two primary meanings are a ritual or ceremony and a social convention. One of the most common uses of the latter is in the phrase rite of passage, which refers to an often unspoken requirement that individuals are expected to complete before gaining acceptance into a group or organization.

Here are a few examples of rite in a sentence.

  • The priest performed the rites of sacrifice to beseech the goddess for rain.
  • Having your heart broken by your first love is often considered a rite of passage into adulthood.
  • Beating the Dodgers will make 2012’s collapse and 2014’s impotency sting less – it would make them feel like rites of passage, part of a quest. –The Washington Post

Right or right or passage? As I mentioned above (and two of the example indicate), the correct spelling of the phrase is rite of passage.

When to Use Right

definition of rite definition of right definitionWhat does right mean? Right is a word that has many meanings. It can be used as four different parts of speech: an adjective, an adverb, a noun, and a verb.

As an adjective, right means correct or morally good, like in this sentence:

  • Laura is right; if we split up, we will be able to find the ghost more quickly.

As an adverb, right is used to indicate emphasis, like in the phrase right now. It is also a synonym of correctly.

As a verb, right means to restore something to a normal position, like in the phrase right the ship.

  • Now the company is spending more than half-a-billion dollars for improvements to right the ship. –CBS News

As a noun, right usually means either the direction opposite of left or what is morally good. It can also mean a moral or legal entitlement.

For example,

  • The general store is to the right of the barbershop on Nassau Avenue.
  • “My parents did right by me,” Brian told Angela.

Trick to Remember the Difference

define rite define rightRite is not an adjective, adverb, or verb, so if you are using one of those parts of speech, right is the word you need. Both rite and right can be nouns though, so your choice is more difficult here.

Rite vs. Right Check: Remember that a rite can be a ritual. Since these words share their first three letters, you should always be able to link them together in your mind.

Summary

Is it rite or right? Rite and right are homophones that can each be used as a noun.

  • Rite refers to a ritual or custom.
  • Right means moral good, a direction, or a moral or legal entitlement.

Despite having multiple meanings each, they are never interchangeable.