This post looks at the differences between mantel and mantle with Grammar Rules from the Writer’s Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

This time around, we’re back in the land of homophones: mantel and mantle. One of these words refers to the shelf or structure above a fireplace; the other can be used in a few different ways.

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So let’s look at the differences between mantel and mantle and when to use each.

Mantel vs. Mantle

Mantel is a noun that refers to a shelf above a fireplace or a structure serving as a lintel to support the masonry above a fireplace.

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Meanwhile, the mantle can be used as a noun or verb. As a noun, mantle can mean several things, including a cloak-like garment, lobes on a mollusk or brachiopod, interior of a terrestrial planet, a lacy hood that gives an incandescent light when placed over flame, and/or the back, scapulars, and wings of a bird. As a verb, mantle refers to the act of covering or cloaking something.

Make sense?

Here are a couple examples of mantel and mantle:

Correct: She put her new vase on the mantel.
Incorrect: She put her new vase on the mantle.

Correct: His evil plan involves drilling into Earth’s mantle.
Incorrect: His evil plan involves drilling into Earth’s mantle.

I don’t have a ready trick for telling these two apart this week, but I’m open to suggestions in the comments below. Maybe the best thing to do is focus on mantel and how it only has one meaning, which is the shelf or structure above a fireplace. Meanwhile, mantle can be related to birds, clothes, mollusks, or the interior of the planet itself.

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No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

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