Difference Between Stationary and Stationery

Main Difference – Stationary vs Stationery

The two homophones stationary and stationery are often mixed up by a lot of writers. This mix up is considerably understandable due to the similarities in the pronunciation and spellings of these words. However, the meanings of these two words are completely different. Stationary means not moving or not intended to be moved. Stationery refers to office materials such as pens, papers, notepads, folders, etc. This disparity in meaning is the main difference between stationary and stationery.

Stationary – Meaning and Usage

Stationary is an adjective; it means not moving or not intended to be moved. This adjective is mainly used to describe nouns that cannot or do not move. When a vehicle doesn’t move, we can say that it is stationary. Even when a person stays in the same position for a long time, we can say that he or she is stationary. The soldiers who are on guard duty stay in a stationary position for a long time.

The car skidded off the lane and hit a stationary bus.

Some bird can stay stationary in the air for several minutes.

We ran into the station; luckily, the train was still stationary.

The instructor advised him to use the handbrake only when the car is stationary.

He has no problems when the car is stationary, but when it starts moving, he feels sick.

It’s difficult for my grandmother to sit stationary for long periods.

Main Difference - Stationary vs Stationery

Stationery – Meaning and Usage

Although stationery looks and sounds quite similar to stationary, its meaning is quite different. Stationery refers to pens, papers, envelopes, folders and other materials used for writing. Stationary can also refer to specially designed and printed notepaper, envelopes, and invitations, etc. which are made for specific occasions or for specific companies. Stationery is mainly used as a noun, but it can be also used as an adjective.

Mr. Davidson is in charge of filling the stationery cupboard.

I couldn’t write down anything because I had no stationery with me.

Pens and notebooks are essential stationery to students.

Mukharji and Sons is the leading stationery supplier in New Delhi.

Difference Between Stationary and Stationery

Difference Between Stationary and Stationery


Stationary means not moving, or not intended to be moved.

Stationery refers to writing and other office materials.

Grammatical Function

Stationary is an adjective.

Stationery is a noun.


Stationary refers to a quality or characteristic of a noun.

Stationery refers to a concrete noun.Difference Between Stationary and Stationery - infographic

Now that you know the difference between stationary and stationery see whether you can identify the errors in the following sentences.

  1. She wanted to cross the road quickly while the traffic remained stationary.
  2. He owns the sole stationary shop in the town.
  3. She stood stationery for a minute to get her bearings.
  4. Wait here; I ’ll just buy some stationery and come.
  5. The soldier stood stationary for a long time.
  6. She drove the car in a vehicle in a careless way and collided with a stationery

Did you identify the errors in the above examples?  The second, third and sixth sentences are incorrect as stationary and stationery have been interchanged in them.

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