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Is it Stationery or Stationary and How to Remember

Is it Stationery or Stationary and How to Remember

The English language can be a complex and confusing one. So many words that can sound the same, look similar but have totally different meanings.

Take the word STATIONERY and STATIONARY for example. There have been many times where I've seen people use both interchangeably thinking it's the right one to use, but unknowingly conveying a completely different message.

One single letter that makes all the difference. Have you spotted it yet? I'll give you a clue. It's the E and A.

StationEry and StationAry. 

So which is the correct one to use? Is it stationery or stationary?

 

Meaning of Stationery

According to the dictionary website Merriam Webster, they define the word stationery to mean:

1: materials (such as paper, pens, and ink) for writing or typing
2: letter paper usually accompanied with matching envelopes

Meaning of Stationary

Merriam Webster also defines the word stationary to mean:

1: fixed in a station, course, or mode: immobile

 

Learning from the Past

In my younger days, I was one of those people who used both spellings interchangeably to mean stationery. One minute I was telling the world I was a stationary lover (meaning I loved to not move. Oops!) and the next minute I was telling the world I was a stationery lover (meaning I loved the paper goods and writing implements, which made a lot more sense!)

 

The Difference and How to Remember

There have been many ways that have come up for people to try and remember how to distinguish between the two.

For me personally, I remember the difference between the two by the letter E.

To me the 'E' or 'e' I see as a fancy modern day table. The flat top of the capital E is like a table top where I sit and write, and the gap on the bottom a place where I can place my feet. Similar concept with the lower case 'e' it's just a even more fancier shaped table.

It's a silly way to remember, I know. But it's what worked for me all these years to distinguish the two word meanings. Perhaps it'll be a helpful reminder to you too.

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