Word Choice: Wrote vs. Rote
  • 2-minute read
  • 7th March 2020

Word Choice: Wrote vs. Rote

Although “wrote” and “rote” sound identical (the “w” in “wrote” is a silent letter), they are very different in meaning. So, how do you avoid errors in your writing when using these words? Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Wrote (Past Tense of Write)

The word “wrote” is the simple past tense of “write.” This verb has many meanings, but most refer to making marks that represent letters, words, or numbers, usually on paper or via a keyboard:

She wrote her message on the birthday card.

It can also refer to sending a message to someone, such as a letter or email:

I wrote to my grandmother to thank her for the cheque.

Or it can refer to drafting or composing something, such as a musical work:

Tom’s friend wrote the music for the new James Bond film.

This term is also used in computing, where it means “recorded to memory”:

The computer wrote the data to its hard drive.

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The past participle of “write,” meanwhile, is “written.”

Rote (Learning by Repetition)

The word “rote” is a noun that refers to learning something by repetition, often without understanding it. For instance, we could use it like this:

We learned our multiplication tables by rote.

“Rote” can also be an adjective that describes something done by repetition:

Many teachers believe rote learning is bad for students.

However, “rote” is never a verb! This makes it easy to distinguish from “wrote.”

Summary: Wrote or Rote?

While these words look and sound alike, the difference is:

  • Wrote is the simple past tense of “write” and usually refers to making marks that represent letters or words, or to the act of composing something.
  • Rote can be a noun or an adjective and refers to learning by repetition.

The key here is that “rote” is never a verb. So if you need a word that refers to an action (i.e., writing, recording, or composing something) in the past tense, it will always be “wrote.” And if you’d like expert help to ensure your writing is error free, why not try our proofreading service?

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