Do I use stationery or stationary?
Let’s look at two very similar words with completely different meanings. How do you remember which is which?
Here’s a trick my teacher taught me when I was about seven or eight and I still use now.
STATIONERY – the one with the ‘E’
This means office goods, of the sort that might accidentally find their way home with you!
MY PEN WAS BROKEN, SO I WROTE ON THE ENVELOPE WITH A PENCIL.
There’s an E in PEN and PENCIL and ENVELOPE, so we use STATIONERY.
That’s quite straightforward, isn’t it? So what about the other one?
STATIONARY – the one with the ‘A’
This means not moving, staying in one place. Like on the M25 in rush hour.
THE CAR WAS AT A STANDSTILL IN A TRAFFIC JAM.
There’s an A in STANDSTILL and TRAFFIC and JAM, so we use STATIONARY.
That’s two handy sentences to help you focus on the letter that changes.
So there you go:
E in envelope = stationery
A in standstill = stationary
Check out these posts for more from the Worry-free Writing series:
Worry-free Writing: compliment and complement
Worry-free Writing: it’s and its
Over to you
How do you remember the difference between these two words? Tell me your tips and tricks in the comments!
Do you think that’ll help? I hope it does. I thank Mrs Barnett for this trick every time I use it!
If you have any other word dilemmas, punctuation problems or spelling blind spots, let me know and I’ll try to explain it clearly for you
Whether you’re the CEO of a global corporation, a small business owner in a thriving niche market, or an entrepreneur developing original ideas, writing a