stationary vs. stationery

What is the difference between stationary and stationery?

Stationary is an adjective meaning “not moving or incapable of being moved” or, by extension, “unchanging.” For example:
  • “The car remained stationary at the traffic light, despite the honking from the cars behind it.”
  • “Despite the company’s overall evolution over the years, many of its policies have been obstinately stationary.”
Stationery, on the other hand, is a noun meaning “writing paper or other materials used for writing, such as envelopes, pens, ink, etc.,” as in:
  • “The stationery with the company’s logo on it finally arrived.”
  • “I had a personalized stationery case in high school that I absolutely loved.”

Spelling Tricks and Tips

These two words give writers a lot of trouble, as they are very close in spelling and identical in pronunciation (/ˈsteɪʃənɛri/). Fortunately, there is a quick and easy trick to remembering the correct spelling. Stationery is usually referring to some form of paper, and is spelled with the letters ER; if we are not talking about paper, it will be spelled with the letters AR instead.
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