Stationary vs Stationery. What is the difference?

Hey there, language enthusiasts! Ever find yourself scratching your head over those tricky words that sound alike but mean totally different things? Well, you’re not alone! English is full of these sneaky words that can trip us up if we’re not careful. But fear not, because today we’re going to tackle one such pair: “stationary” and “stationery.”

So, what’s the deal with these two words? They may sound similar, but they’re as different as apples and oranges! Stick around as we dive into the fascinating world of stationary vs. stationery and unravel the mystery behind these commonly confused terms.

Ready to roll? Let’s get started!


Short answer:

“Stationary” refers to something that is not moving, like a stationary bike.

“Stationery” refers to writing materials such as paper, envelopes, and pens.


Definition of “Stationary”

“Stationary” means not moving or fixed in one place.

Contexts in which “Stationary” is typically used:

  • Describing an object or person that is not in motion.
  • Referring to a fixed position or location.
  • Used in physics to denote an object at rest.
  • In transportation, describing a vehicle that has come to a complete stop.
  • Pertaining to a still image, such as in photography or film.
  • In mathematics, relating to a point that remains fixed.
  • Used in engineering to describe non-moving parts of a machine or mechanism.
  • In astronomy, referring to a celestial body’s position relative to the Earth.
  • Describing a non-moving condition in weather, such as during a calm day.
  • Used in sports to indicate a player who remains in one position without moving.

Examples of “Stationary” usage in daily routine

  1. “The book was placed on the stationary shelf.”
  2. “The traffic was at a complete standstill, so the cars remained stationary.”
  3. “After finishing my workout, I sat on the stationary bike for a cool-down.”
  4. “The statue in the park remained stationary, attracting many visitors.”
  5. “I took a stationary position to capture the perfect photo of the sunset.”
  6. “During the lecture, the professor remained stationary at the podium.”
  7. “The stationary phase of the traffic light lasted for several minutes.”
  8. “The Earth’s orbit around the Sun is not perfectly stationary.”
  9. “The weather forecast predicted a stationary front, leading to stable conditions.”
  10. “In yoga class, we practiced stationary poses to improve balance and strength.”


Definition of “Stationery”

“Stationery” refers to writing materials and office supplies, including paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, erasers, and other items used for writing, drawing, or organizing.

Contexts in which “Stationery” is typically used

  1. Offices: Stationery is commonly used in office settings for tasks such as writing letters, taking notes, and organizing paperwork.
  2. Schools: Students and teachers use stationery for assignments, projects, and classroom activities.
  3. Correspondence: Stationery is often used for writing letters, invitations, thank-you notes, and other forms of communication.
  4. Art and crafts: Stationery items like paper, pens, and markers are used for drawing, coloring, and crafting.
  5. Business: Stationery can include branded materials such as letterheads, business cards, and envelopes used for professional communication.
  6. Personal use: Individuals may use stationery for writing letters, keeping journals, or sending greeting cards.
  7. Events: Stationery items like invitations, RSVP cards, and place cards are used for weddings, parties, and other special occasions.
  8. Gift-giving: Stationery sets or personalized stationery make popular gifts for friends, family, or colleagues.
  9. Stationery stores: Specialty stores sell a wide range of stationery products catering to different needs and preferences.
  10. Online: Stationery can also be purchased online from various retailers or customized through printing services.

How to use the word “Stationery” in ordinary life

  1. “I need to buy some stationery for school, like notebooks and pens.”
  2. “Can you pass me the stationery drawer? I need an envelope to mail this letter.”
  3. “I love browsing stationery stores to see all the different types of paper and designs.”
  4. “Let’s pick out some cute stationery for our wedding invitations.”
  5. “I keep all my stationery organized in a desk organizer on my desk.”
  6. “Do you have any stationery recommendations for bullet journaling?”
  7. “I always carry a small notebook in my bag for jotting down ideas.”
  8. “My favorite part of back-to-school shopping is picking out new stationery supplies.”
  9. “I’m going to personalize my stationery with my initials for a unique touch.”
  10. “I like to support small businesses by purchasing handmade stationery items from local artisans.”

Practical Tips for Distinguishing Between “Stationary” and “Stationery”

  • Think of “Stationary” as “Still”: Remember that “stationary” with an “a” means not moving, just like the word “still.”
  • Stationary has an “a” like “car”: Both “stationary” and “car” have the letter “a,” which can help you remember that “stationary” refers to something that is not moving, just like a parked car.
  • Remember the “E” in “Stationery” stands for “Envelope”: “Stationery” with an “e” refers to writing materials, including envelopes used for sending letters.
  • Stationery ends with “ery” like “stationery” store: Think of a stationery store where you can buy writing materials like paper, pens, and envelopes.
  • Associate “Stationary” with “Stay”: The “a” in “stationary” reminds you of “stay,” indicating something staying in one place.
  • Stationery involves “Letters”: Think of the “e” in “stationery” as standing for “envelopes” or “letters” that you write or send.
  • Use the phrase “Stand Still” for “Stationary”: When you see “stationary,” think of something standing still or not moving, like a statue.
  • Imagine “Stationery” as “Writing Supplies”: The “e” in “stationery” can remind you of “envelopes” or “writing supplies.”
  • Think of “Stationary” like “Station”: Imagine a train station where trains are stationary, not moving.
  • Remember “Stationery” with an “e” is for “Everything” you need to write: The “e” in “stationery” can remind you that it includes everything you need for writing.

Comparison Table

CriteriaStationaryStationery
DefinitionNot moving or fixed in one place.Writing materials such as paper, envelopes, etc.
ExampleA parked carA letter-writing set
UsageDescribing objects or people at rest.Writing materials used for correspondence.
Associated ActionStaying in one position.Writing or sending letters.
MnemonicThink of “still” or “stay” for “stationary.”Remember “envelope” for “stationery.”
VisualImagine a stationary train at a station.Picture a desk filled with writing supplies.
Related WordsStill, immobile, fixed.Paper, pen, envelope, letter.
Memory AidAssociate with “car” or “stand still.”Think of “writing supplies” or “letters.”
Usage ContextsTraffic, physics, photography.Office, school, correspondence.
Common MisunderstandingsOften confused with “stationery.”Sometimes misspelled as “stationary.”

5 usefull sources to improve your grammar

“The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language” by John H. McWhorter

Check the availability

This fascinating book explores the evolution and diversity of languages around the world, offering insights into how languages develop, change, and shape human communication.

“Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” by Mignon Fogarty

Check the availability

With its practical tips and easy-to-understand explanations, this book helps readers improve their writing skills by addressing common grammar and writing issues in a clear and engaging manner.

“The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century” by Steven Pinker

Check the availability

Drawing on insights from linguistics and cognitive science, Steven Pinker offers a refreshing perspective on writing style, emphasizing clarity, coherence, and elegance in communication.

“Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen” by Mary Norris

Check the availability

In this humorous and insightful memoir, Mary Norris, a longtime copy editor at The New Yorker, shares anecdotes and advice about language, grammar, and the joys of editing.

“The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language” by Mark Forsyth

Check the availability

Taking readers on a delightful journey through the etymology of English words, this book reveals surprising connections and histories behind familiar terms, making language study both entertaining and enlightening.

okibro.com adv banner