Is It “Stationary” or “Stationery”? Read This to Help You Remember.

by Michelle Hutchinson

Envelope with ampersand and arrow

Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org.

Confusion between stationary (with an “a” near the end of the word) and stationery (with an “e”) is common.

In fact, it is so common, that when I was searching the Internet today for companies that specialize in book design, I came across the following blurb on one business’s website.

Red arrow pointing to incorrect use of the word "stationary"

I love how the copywriter used the metaphor of a rainbow to represent choice, but in the last sentence, the second word, stationary, should be stationery.

Stationary means staying or standing in one place.

Stationery means writing materials, like paper and envelopes.

So how do I remember the difference? I use the following trick.

Since stationery includes envelopes, and since envelopes starts with an “e,” I remember that stationery takes an “e” near the end.

If I’m not using the word to refer to letterheads, envelopes, etc., then I use an “a.”

It’s that easy!

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