Twice in the last week, I saw the same word used incorrectly. And truth be told, I usually have to stop and think about this one. These two words are often confused with each other.
Remember when you were young and you loved to write cute notes on printed stationary? No? While I may be the only one who had a collection of flowery notecards and puffy stickers stashed away in her room, it certainly wasn’t stationary.
That’s because it was stationery.
Why are these words so often confused?
“Your stationery might go in an envelope to be mailed.”
“Your stationary bike isn’t going anywhere.”
Yes, the words stationary and stationery are among some of the most often confused words in the English language. They are homophones, words that sound the same but have two different meanings and, sometimes, spellings.
A stationer was someone who sold books and paper in the Middle Ages; stationery became the term for those goods. But stationers sold those goods in one, stationary location, rather than as roving peddlers, which was common in those days. Hence, the confusion.
Want an easy cheat to remember the difference?
Think about old snail-mail, when you stuffed your written letters (your stationery) in an envelope. Remember the e in envelope. Or, if you live in the 21st century, e-mail.
I hope this helps you know and remember the difference between these two often confused words!