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