Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Dec 14 2009   7:43PM GMT

Test your metal or mettle?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
Business writing
CIO
commonly confused words
enterprise WAN
grammar
mettle vs. metal
network administration
Quiz

Which is correct?
Keeping data flowing efficiently across an enterprise WAN tests the _______ of any system administrator.
a. mettle
b. metal


Answer: a

Explanation:
Because these two words are homophones — words that sound identical — many people don’t realize they are actually two different words. However, mettle means the stuff one is made of, the strength and quality of one’s character. Metal, as you probably know, is any of a variety of handy substances used to make cars, computer parts, appliances and so on.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing includes mettle and metal in its Notorious Confusables section.

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