While editing a client’s work I noticed a reference about how to order “stationary” or letterhead. The word was spelled incorrectly and the correct way to spell it in this context is: stationery.
When the client saw my correction he laughed and said, “Does it really matter?”
I suppose in a world full of big issues like the recent Ebola outbreak, poverty and global warming, the way we spell a word seems insignificant. But, for reasons unknown to me, I am fascinated by language. I like its quirky rules, its evolution, and its creativity.
So, for me, if I am going to call myself a writer or an editor, it does matter. Rules of language help us communicate effectively with each other. Respect for language and its rules are part of what keeps us civilized. And without all of its rules, a “language geek” like me would find it less challenging and entertaining.
Your tip for today? Learn the difference between stationary and stationery. It will be one less error on your website or in your brochure.
Stationary: standing still or in a fixed position; also, not changing in quantity or condition
Example: The ice cream truck originally traveled throughout the neighborhood selling cones and slush, but now it is stationary on the corner of Pleasant Street and Main. That must be a good location for sales!
Stationery: writing paper, especially letterhead and matching envelopes
Example: I bought some stationery for my grandmother, as she still likes to write long letters by hand. God bless her!
What’s wrong with this sign? :)