Stationary vs. Stationery: Understanding the Difference

When we encounter the words stationary vs. stationery, it’s essential to recognize the distinction to ensure proper usage in writing and communication. Although these words sound identical when spoken, they carry entirely different meanings. 

The Main Difference between Stationary and Stationery

Stationary vs. Stationery: Understanding the Difference Pin

Stationary vs. Stationery: Key Takeaways

  • Stationary refers to something that is not moving or not intended to be moved. It’s an adjective used to describe objects that are fixed or immobile.
  • Stationery denotes materials used for writing, such as paper, envelopes, and writing instruments. It is a noun.

Stationary vs. Stationery: the Definition

What Does Stationary Mean?

Stationary refers to something that is not moving or not intended to be moved. It is an adjective. For instance, we might say:

  • The car remained stationary despite the green light.
  • Our store has been in a stationary location for over a decade.

What Does Stationery Mean?

On the other hand, stationery relates to the materials used for writing, like paper, envelopes, and sometimes accompanying items like pens or pencils. It is a noun. Here are examples:

  • We selected beautiful stationery for our wedding invitations.
  • The office orders stationery every month to replenish supplies.

Stationary vs. Stationery: Usage and Examples

When we write, it’s easy to mix up similar-sounding words like “stationary” and “stationery.” However, they carry distinct meanings.

Stationary describes something that is not in motion. It can apply to objects that are fixed in place or situations that remain unchanged.


  • We watched the birds while remaining stationary.
  • The art installation is designed to appear different from every angle, even though it’s stationary.

In contrast, stationery refers to writing materials, such as paper, envelopes, and sometimes writing utensils.


  • We picked out elegant stationery for our wedding invitations.
  • Personalized stationery makes for a thoughtful gift.

Here’s a quick reference table to clarify further:

Word Meaning Example
Stationary Not moving or unchanging The sculpture is stationary in the center of the park.
Stationery Writing materials She wrote her thank-you notes on monogrammed stationery.

Tips to Remember the Difference

  • Stationary with an “a” stands for “at a standstill”.
  • Stationery with an “e” is reminiscent of “envelope”, which is part of writing materials.

Stationary vs. Stationery: Examples

Example Sentences Using Stationary 

  • We waited beside a stationary train, listening to the hiss of its resting engines.
  • The art installation featured a series of stationary figures that appeared to be walking.
  • During the meditation class, we were advised to keep our focus on a stationary object to help concentrate our minds.
  • The accident was caused by a car that remained stationary in the middle of the highway.
  • The guard remained stationary at his post, vigilant throughout the night.

Example Sentences Using Stationery 

  • She selected elegant stationery for her wedding invitations, complete with matching envelopes.
  • Upon receiving the beautifully crafted stationery, I felt compelled to pen a heartfelt note.
  • Our office manager ordered new stationery with the updated company logo.
  • For his farewell gift, we gave him a set of monogrammed stationery to use for personal correspondence.
  • As a writer, there’s nothing quite like the feel of putting pen to paper on high-quality stationery.

Related Confused Words with Stationary or Stationery

Stationery vs. Office Supplies

Stationery specifically refers to writing materials. This includes items like paper, envelopes, and writing implements. On the other hand, office supplies encompass a broader category. Beyond stationery, they cover items such as:

  • Staplers and staples
  • Paper clips
  • Binders and folders
  • Office furniture

In essence, all stationery is office supplies, but not all office supplies can be classified as stationery.

Stationery vs. Letterhead

Letterhead is a particular type of stationery. It consists of:

  • Customized paper: This paper usually features a company’s logo, contact information, and a unique design.
  • Formal use: It’s used for official correspondence.

While all letterhead is part of stationery, not all stationery serves the specific purpose that letterhead does, which is representing an organization in communications.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I remember the difference between ‘stationary’ and ‘stationery’?

Remembering the difference is easier when we associate ‘stationery’ with paper products by remembering that both ‘stationery’ and ‘paper’ have the letter ‘e’. ‘Stationary’ with an ‘a’ signifies not moving, just like a car parked is stationAry.

What types of items are included in stationery?

Stationery mainly refers to materials used for writing and office supplies, such as paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, and greeting cards. These items are often sold in a stationery store.

What is the origin of the word ‘stationery’?

The word ‘stationery’ comes from the Latin ‘stationarius’, meaning ‘belonging to a stationary dealer’. It referred to booksellers and others permanently situated as opposed to itinerant traders.

Can you provide tips for finding good stationery shops?

To find good stationery shops, we can look for stores that specialize in writing supplies, offer a variety of quality products, and have knowledgeable staff. Online reviews and recommendations can also point us to shops with high-quality stationery.

Is there a simple way to distinguish ‘stationary’ from ‘stationery’?

Yes, simply focus on the last three letters: ‘ery’ in ‘stationery’ is the same in ‘paper and letter’, referring to writing materials, while ‘ary’ in ‘stationary’ implies stationary objects, ones that stay put.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using ‘stationary’ and ‘stationery’ in writing?

A common mistake is misplacing the ‘a’ and ‘e’ due to their similar pronunciation. Always double-check the context to ensure that ‘stationary’ is used for things that are not moving and ‘stationery’ is correctly used for writing materials.

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Last Updated on January 25, 2024

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