Sunday, August 4, 2013

Get It Right: Stationary And Stationery

Last week, we explained the difference between good and well, but now it's time to for us to deal with yet another common spelling error. Without further ado, here's a brief look at the difference between stationery and stationary


First of all, this is a noun. Stationery refers to materials used for writing, such as paper, pens, and ink. Back in the olden days, people actually used to write letters on pieces of paper and mail them to their loved ones, as crazy as that sounds. Sometimes when people use the term, they're just referring to the fancy paper that was traditionally used for writing formal letters, often with matching envelopes. Sadly, the art of letter writing has quickly gone out of style due to the advent of the internet and email.

Why wouldn't you want to use a
stationary bike on a naval ship?

This one's an adjective. If something is stationary, it is in a fixed position or unchanging in condition. If you ever go to a gym that has bikes for you to use as exercise equipment, then they're almost undoubtedly stationary bikes, because they don't move. You might also hear your local tv meteorologist refer to a "stationary front", which is the boundary between two different air masses.

To summarize, one's a noun that may one day be obsolete due to modern technology, while the other is an adjective that describes things that don't move.

Have you thought of another common grammar or spelling mistake that you wish people would get right? Let us know in the comments and we may discuss it in a future post.