Difference between Stationary and Stationery

If there was a list of commonly confused pairs of words, this particular pair of words – ‘stationary’ and ‘stationery’, would definitely be in it. Students of all ages might have once used one of these words instead of the other. How would you explain the difference between these two terms easily to a child?

There are many words in the English Language that are pronounced similarly but have entirely different meanings. Such words are known as homophones, and ‘stationary’ and ‘stationery’ is one pair among such homophones. To avoid confusion in their usage, the following article will point out how these words differ. Let’s go through the points below along with their detailed explanations.

Table Summarising the Difference between Stationary and Stationery

Stationary Stationery
Meaning The word stationary means motionless or still. The word stationery refers to things that are commonly known as school or office supplies, for example, writing materials like pens and pencils or office materials.
Usage It is used as an Adjective. It is used as a Noun.
Example The bus collided with a stationary jeep. I need to collect some stationery supplies for my school project.

So, in the table, we can see that both ‘stationary’ and ‘stationery’ have entirely different meanings, and one can’t use them interchangeably. We have to be careful while using these easily words because chances of committing a mistake is very high here.

Difference between Stationary and Stationery – Meanings

If you observe the spellings of both these words, you will see that there’s just a difference of ‘a’ and ‘e’ in both words. As a result, children often use one spelling instead of the other while in a hurry to write. When you write the word ‘stationary’ in a sentence, it acts as an adjective that means immobile/still/motionless, for example, ‘The stationary car in the middle of the road caused a jam.’ Here, ‘stationary’ describes the state of the noun, i.e., the car. Whereas the word ‘stationery’ refers to the supplies like notebooks, pencils, erasers, staplers etc., that are needed for office purposes or schoolwork, for example, ‘Sam visited a stationery shop.’

Examples of Stationary and Stationery

The examples given of ‘stationary’ and ‘stationery’ will help us understand the concept clearly.

Stationary – The traffic seems to have been stationary for a long time. (adjective)

Stationery – Ron got his stationery materials for the exam. (noun)

Stationary and Stationery – Conclusion

Summing up, both the words ‘stationary’ and ‘stationery’ are neither synonymous nor interchangeable. While using the words, one has to understand the contexts of the sentences. Both belong to completely separate parts of speech.

Students can refer to more ‘Difference Between’ articles and valuable concepts related to grammar only at BYJU’S English.


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