Why Write Wrong #9

Good Morning from way down here in Florida, everyone! Marcia here, and I hope today finds you in good health, happy spirits, and ready to take a look at some words frequently spelled or used incorrectly. Today, I have several easy homophones to share. These words sound exactly alike, but are each spelled differently and have very different meanings.

Most of you will be familiar with all six definitions, but will want to be extra careful with your spellings, lest you confuse the heck outta your readers. 🙂

Let’s start with the easiest pair, though I see these used incorrectly more than you’d expect. There are actually 3 of these homophones, but since I’m pretty sure most if not all of you know how to use “rain” correctly, I’m going straight to the two that are often used erroneously.  Rein and reign.  They do not mean the same thing at all, and just to be clear, here are the definitions and examples for each.

Noun (Plural: reins) –
A long, narrow strap attached at one end to a horse’s bit, typically used in pairs to guide or check a horse while riding or driving.

Verb (3rd person present: reins) – To check or guide (a horse) by pulling on its reins.

Example: He reins in his horse and waits for her to come alongside and do the same.

Noun (Plural: reigns) –  The period during which a sovereign rules.

Example: The original chapel was built in the reign of Henry VIII.

So please,  no more pulling on the reigns. It might irritate the reigning monarch, but it will never slow down your horse.

Now, let’s take a look at four more homophones that frequently cause problems: metal, mettle, medal, and meddle. If you’re already solid on these, consider this just a reminder to proofread very carefully to be sure your fingers listened to your brain when it was telling them what to type. Spelling becomes even more of an issue if you’re one who does a lot of writing via dictation. Remember, Spellcheck is NOT your friend where these words are concerned. So here goes:

Noun – A solid material that is typically hard, shiny, malleable, fusible, and ductile, with good electrical and thermal conductivity (e.g., iron, gold, silver, copper, and aluminum, and alloys such as brass and steel). Also (less common): Broken stone for use in making roads.

Example: Being a metal, aluminum readily conducts heat. (But gold looks prettier! 😀 )

Noun –
A person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way. Courage.

The team showed their true mettle in the second half, and went on to win the praise and admiration of their entire kindergarten class.

Noun – 
A metal disk with an inscription or design, made to commemorate an event or awarded as a distinction to someone such as a soldier, athlete, or scholar.
Verb –  To
earn a medal, especially in an athletic contest.

Example: The visiting team of athletes medaled in 12 of the 14 events, but the home team–never known for being gracious losers–swore they wuz robbed, and vowed to get even next time.

Verb – 
To interfere in or busy oneself unduly with something that is not one’s concern.

EXAMPLE: This is an extremely private matter, dear. I do not wish to have anyone coming around to meddle in our affairs. Therefore, bar the gate, hang out the No Entry sign, and pretend we’ve left the country.


Use all four words correctly in one sentence. Here’s mine:

Can a knight of true mettle,
Clad in bright, shining metal,
Win a glorious golden medal,
Yet curb his rude desire to meddle,
Where he knows he doesn’t belong?

(Yeah, I know it’s a groaner. But technically, it works. )

And that’s it for today, folks. Hope this post will remind you to check your spelling very carefully. Even if you know the difference in the meanings of these words, if you type one wrong, your readers will think you don’t. 😯

Now, who is up for the challenge above? Show us what you come up with, because as always, inquiring minds wanna know–or see–these things! 😀

Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you’ll stay tuned for more of our regular Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts here on Story Empire. Lots coming up in the days head, and I know you don’t want to miss out. 

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll go forth to write with happy hearts, because happy hearts will help you through the tough times and make your stories all the better. (That’s MY story, an’ I’m stickin’ to it!) 

(All images above were created by me or obtained from Pixabay.) 

69 thoughts on “Why Write Wrong #9

  1. Another fun and informative post Marsh. This was a great explanation – “your fingers listened to your brain”. Amazing when I double back to check even comments, I’ll catch myself doing the ‘they’re and their’ switcheroos – a lot! 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dadblast those STOOPIT fingers! Why don’t they listen?? I’m pretty sure my brain didn’t tell them HALF of the things they type! 😀 And it’s easy to miss those types of errors in proofing, too. Glad you enjoyed the post, Debby, and here’s to well-behaved fingers everywhere. May ours soon start becoming just like them! 😀 Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment. It’s GREATLY appreciated! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post, Marcia! The combination of those tricky homophones and our trusty spell-check is not a good one, unless we’re hoping for chuckles. Like the others said, I wasn’t familiar with “mettle” either, so thank you for the lesson. 🙂

    Here’s my contribution to the challenge:

    It wasn’t his place to meddle in his sister’s life, especially knowing how stubborn she can be. His brotherly advice won’t earn him any medal. But the platinum gleaming metal on her ring finger sure doesn’t exemplify a loving marriage. She’s living directly smack in the center of the abuse, so he prays she has the mettle to find a way out very soon.

    Thanks again for this wonderful reminder of just how crazy the English language is!
    Have a good evening, Lauren 🧡🍂🍁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Lauren! I hope you know you’re going to have to write a whole story about “his sister” so we know if she ever tested her mettle by breaking free of her non-loving marriage! Can you get right on that? We’ll be waiting to see how it all turns out for her. (Hopefully with her husband behand metal bars! 😀 )

      So glad you enjoyed the post and learned a new word, too. That’s always fun. And your contribution to the challenge is GREAT! Thanks so much for joining in and giving me this poor, abused woman to worry about. 😀 You did wonders with this crazy language of ours. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, Marcia, I feel the pressure now. 🙂 I don’t know where that topic came from because it truly is fiction. But I’m glad it worked and I appreciate your challenge, too. And who knows, maybe we will find out the rest of his sister’s story. I’m hoping for a happy ending just like you!
        And yes, I learned something here, so that’s always good for the brain. Thanks for your kind words, but I didn’t mean to give you another thing to worry about. 🙂 Happy Monday! 🥰💗

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not worried so much as curious. I do think you have the start of something interesting, there. Although in a serious story, you MIGHT have to do away with all the metal, mettle, medal stuff. (Darn.) 😀 Glad you had fun with it, though! 🙂


  3. Rein and reign was one that got me in the early days of writing (because I usually have despots and horses in my stories, so there’ll be plenty of uses of both rain…er, rein and reign 😉 )…
    The other one that used to get me was yolk and yoke. Which can be very embarrassing to get wrong! “You won’t survive under his yolk,” ….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahahaha. LOVE it, Jessica! We all have words that give us trouble from time to time, so it behooves us to check, and recheck, and check again, methinks! I suspect rein and reign trip up a lot of folks, and sometimes, even when you KNOW the difference, your fingers betray you. 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Jess. Always a treat to see you, my friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • 😀 Ain’t that the truth, Diana, and thanks! It was fun playing with it, and even more fun to see how many others gave it a shot, too. Well done to all of them 🙂 And thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fun post, Marcia! I have always said the English language is the toughest around. So many words that sound alike, spelled differently, and have different meanings. Here’s my crazy contribution. “I’ll give you a gold medal for resisting the urge to meddle in the production of metal because it shows you have the strong mettle lining your backbone.” 🙂 Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Well done, Jan. And yes, English is a crazy weird language, and then you have that country across the Pond speaking a whole ‘nuther version of it, too. 😀 Yeah, I know they spoke it first, but still. It’s weird how different American English can be from ENGLIS English. 😀 It keeps us on our toes, for sure. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by and for joining in the challenge. 😀 Happy Halloween!

      Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you enjoy this little series, Bette. I try to keep it lighthearted, while still reminding people that choosing (and/or spelling) the correct word is important, and getting it wrong has an impact on readers and what they think of your work. Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing! It’s always great to see you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Trish. I got a kick out of using that one, too. 😀 And I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Hope it helps folks remember to check and double check that they’ve spelled their word choice correctly with these six. And glad to see you stopping by this morning, too. 🙂 Have a great weekend!


    • Thanks, Michele. I’ll bet as an editor you DO see some “interesting reading” from time to time. Homophones are just one of the issues that can say something far different than the author intended. (That’s what great editors are for, and thank goodness for them! 🙂 )

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment. I really appreciate it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You know, even though I know all of these and know the correct usage for each well, I still have to stop and think things through for a few seconds when I go to use one. This was another great post, Marcia, and I loved your sentence using all the words. Very fun that so many chimed in to “play” and take up the challenge! As always, I love these posts. Thanks for another winner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you enjoy them, Mae, and taking a second (or even a third) look when you use a homophone is always a good idea. Glad you enjoyed the sentence using them all, and it WAS fun to see what others came up with, wasn’t it? Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know your thoughts! 🙂 Have a great weekend, my PenderPal! And a fabulous NaNoWriMo November! Write like the wind! 😀


    • We all do that once in a while, Seanarchy, including me. And my eyes are NOT so great these days, so I often don’t catch it in revision, either. But I do think it’s important to remind folks of words that get used incorrectly way too often, so they can be extra careful with them. Thanks for stopping by today and letting me know you enjoy this series. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Finally, someone who loves homophones as much as I do (dew, due, doo). I have blogged about many homophones myself. I live in Oregon, we get a lot of rain (rein, reign). We all are familiar with to, to, and two; also their, there and they’re. I still find those errors in manuscripts and books. Let’s not (knot) waste (waist) any more time (thyme) and check very (vary) carefully our (hour) writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahahahahahahaha! Love it, Mark! And yep, you get it, all right! They do pop out at you while reading, and break your train of thought completely, don’t they? Sometimes people really don’t know the difference, while other times, it’s a typo or just a misspelling. Either way, it’s a real good idea to check for these common ones as closely as possible. Good to know you’re on the job! 😀

      Thanks so much for stopping by and bringing a laugh with you! 🙂


    • Or three. Or four. 😀 It’s one of those things we have to be extra vigilant about if we want our readers to think we know what we’re doing. 😀 Many won’t notice, but there will always be those who do, and who find errors like that distracting. (For sure, we don’t want that!)

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Dan, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Horse or no horse, her mettle masked stupidity as she tugged the reins, trotting into the dark alley. If she hadn’t meddled in his business, she wouldn’t be in this predicament. Ah, well. What’s one more victim? He snatched the metal spade and crouched behind the dumpster. Waited. Two more steps and she’d be close enough. He swung. The girl tumbled off the saddle, her head slamming into the pavement.
    He snickered. “I am the darkness you’ve feared. And I, and I alone, reign over life and death.” 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

    • The thunderous noise you hear is APPLAUSE, Sue! Holy Moly, girl. You rocked it! 😀 LOVE that, and love that you used five of the six homophones correctly. I’m hereby awarding you a medal, and thus completing your set! 😀

      Always great to see you, Sue, and thanks so much for adding such a fun (and macabre) note to my morning. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, he had been warned, but he was determined to prove his mettle and earn a medal for saving the princess, so he donned his metal armor and headed out to face his fate.

    Great post, Marcia. I’ve seen these homophones mixed many times and understand how they can be confused. Thanks for helping clarify the correct usage.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Woohoo, Jeanne! Nice job! And yep, these are the kinds of things that pop out at me when I’m supposed to be totally involved in the author’s story. No one wants to have that happen to their readers, so hopefully, this will remind us all to proofread very, very carefully. Sometimes our fingers have minds of their own, and type whatever they’re in the mood for.

      Thanks for stopping by! LOVED your challenge example. Well done! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure as an editor, you see every sort of error a writer can make. These are really simple words that most of us understand, but boy, do they get by us when writing.

      Thanks for stopping by today, Staci! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • HA!!! Right on point, Craig! And so glad you know that a kettle seldom shows any mettle, though it does flash a good bit of metal. 😀

      Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for popping in today! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. He showed his mettle
    When faced with the sharp-bladed metal.
    For his troubles and battle scars
    He’d get no medal.
    But at least he’d broken free of the reins
    the reigning gang had fastened about his neck.

    I’d heard of mettle, and used it in a poem years ago, but it’s not one of those words in popular usage it seems. A shame … I rather like it!

    Thanks for a great Why-Write-Wrong post, Marcia 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Wow, great one, Harmony! LOVE that you got so many in there!!

      Mettle is used most often today in referring to sports battles, I think, especially if a team was outmatched, but fought bravely anyway. I also see it fairly often in fantasy, as it fits with all those dragon slayers and kingdom builders. Lots of battles there, requiring great courage. Or mettle. But in everyday language, not so much. We are losing too many fine words, in my opinion, and the replacement words often lack the same beauty or power. But languages have always been fluid, so I guess it’s to be expected, whether I like it or not.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today, and for taking part in the challenge. You did a FINE job!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always glad to add a new word to anyone’s vocabulary, Jill. Mettle is a fine one, and is used most often when referring to battles (in sports, in fantasy, etc). Now you’ll recognize it, and who knows? You might even use it in the future, if it fits what you’re writing.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • I see people pulling on the reigns all the time, Joan. You’re in good company if you miss that one. And now that I’ve drawn it to your attention, I bet you WILL see mettle pop up here and there. It’s often used in sports to refer to a team’s well-fought “battle,” but I see it in books now and then, too. Especially in fantasy, where it often fits with the overall themes.

      Thanks for stopping by, and remember, no more pulling on the reigns! (Monarchs HATE when we do that! 😀 )

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Your examples are excellent, Marcia. It’s so easy to make a mistake if writing quickly or if spellcheck snags a word and changes it to something other than what is meant. Thank you for the morning smiles. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re welcome, Gwen. I also prefer to add some humor when I can, even if it’s a “groaner.” 😀 And I agree with everything you just said. It’s one of the reasons I’ve taken to using Word’s read aloud feature on all my work now. Things that my eyes miss, my ears will pick up, especially a missed word or a duplicated one. Alas, it doesn’t work with homophones, though, since they sound just alike. I have to depend on these old eyes to catch those kinds of errors.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today. I’m finally back online after a ton of computer woes yesterday. Whew. I wondered if I’d even be here to chat with folks! But so far, so good. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I have a LONG list of errors that just jump out at me like that kid on Welcome Back, Kotter, waving his hand in the air and screaming “Oooh, ooooh, pick me, pick me!” (There’s an ancient reference if I ever heard one!) 😀

      Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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