Stationary vs. Stationery

Stationary vs. stationery

It’s tricky to keep the difference between stationary and stationery straight. They’re homophones, which means they’re two words that sound the same but have different meanings (think flour and flower or principle and principal).

Stationary is an adjective describing something that isn’t moving:

  • All the cars were stationary at the red light.
  • I didn’t want to wake up this morning, so I just lay stationary in my bed.
  • The bus was stationary at the stop, waiting for everyone to board.

Stationery is a noun that refers to special paper you use for writing:

  • She had stationery with matching blue envelopes and paper.
  • Her monogram was emblazoned at the top of her stationery.
  • She went to the stationery shop and stared at the rows of fancy pens.

How to remember the difference: 

Paper ends in ER. So you can remember: Stationery is made of paper

Here’s a fun fact: stationary is etymologically related to stationery. They both originally come from the latin word stationarius, which can mean either a fixed military position or, starting in the 14th century, a tradesman who sells from a post or shop.

Maud Grauer is a content creator for Dot and Dash LLC. You can read more of her writing on the Dot and Dash blog: www.dotanddashllc.com/blog