Road vs. Rode: What’s the Difference?

English has a wide array of homophones that confuse both native and non-native speakers alike. What’s confusing about them is that many of us will use words in everyday conversation but give little thought to their spelling or purpose in a sentence. Most words come to us as sort of second nature, or we gradually pick them up as time goes by. But when we go to write them down on paper, it’s a little more difficult to remember which is which. The difference between road vs. rode is a good example of two popular words that hang people up.

So, in today’s post, I want to discuss the definitions of these words, their functions in a sentence, and give you a few tips on how to keep track of them in the future. Once you finish reading this post, you shouldn’t have any trouble remember which word to use and when.

When to Use Road

definition of roadRoad is a noun and is an open, generally public way for the passage of vehicles, people, and animals. A road is what you drive your car down. For example,

  • What road do I turn on to get to your house?
  • Slow down, you are almost to my road.

Road also has a more metaphorical sense meaning a “course or path.”

  • If you go to a good school, you’ll be on the road to a good paying job.
  • He was on the road to riches and no one could stop him.

It is clear in both of these examples that the subject was not literally on “road to riches.” It is a metaphorical pathway referring to the direction his life was headed.

When to Use Rode

definition of rodeRode functions in a sentence as a verb, as it is the past tense of ride. To ride is to be carried or conveyed, as in a vehicle or on horseback. For example,

  • President Ronald Reagan enjoyed riding horseback.
  • She and I rode together in her car.

Ride has a few other definitions, mostly having to do with travel, movement, or being supported/carried.

  • We rode highways the entire trip.
  • He rode a giant wave while surfing.
  • He rode his motorcycle to work.

Remember the Difference

It’s actually quite easy to distinguish between these two words when you’re writing your sentence because they are two different parts of speech.

As I mentioned above, “road” is a noun. This means that it could appear just about anywhere in your sentence.

  • Roads are dangerous around here. (Beginning of sentence and subject)
  • In order to get there on time, we really need to take the correct road. (End of sentence and direct object)

“Rode,” on the other hand, is a verb. This means that you should expect the subject of your sentence to be very close.

  • We rode the bike in tandem. (Subject directly beside “rode”)

Another great mnemonic tool to keep track of these two words is that Roads are made with Asphalt, and both of these words contain the letter “a.”


Mixing up rode vs. road can be an embarrassing mistake, but it is entirely avoidable.

Road is a way for passage for vehicles or bicycles. It is a noun and is commonly made from asphalt.

Rode is the past tense of the verb “ride.”