'Stationary' or 'Stationery'?

(Last Updated: 12 April 2022)

Stationary and stationery sound the same but their meanings are very different.

Stationary (with an A) is an adjective meaning 'not moving':

✅ The train has been stationary for over ten minutes.

I'm going to be late for school. My bus has been stationary for nearly fifteen minutes.

Stationery (with an E) is a noun meaning 'paper, envelopes, and writing equipment':

✅ There is a stationery shop just across the road.

I need to buy some new stationery before I start school next week.

Tips for remembering the difference

The spelling difference can act as a helpful mnemonic device.

Examples from the media

The vintage Corvette from his Game days is parked out there. It's a handsome machine—low-roofed, thick-wheeled—but it has the rather dusty and forlorn look of a car that has been stationary a while. —The Guardian

Stationery enthusiast Joel Chung Yin-chai believes having the right pencil could have a positive impact on a child's life. South China Morning Post

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Should it be 'stationary' or 'stationery'?

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