Stationary or stationery: 12 confusing words everyone's getting wrong.



I have a terrible confession to make.

I’m embarrassed to be here admitting this, in a public forum, but I really just don’t know the difference between stationary and stationery.

There, I said it.


There’s a damn lot of words in that Oxford dictionary and a lot of them seem like they are the exact same as other words.

Don’t worry. You’re normal. 

That’s why we’ve unpacked the difference between some of the most confusing words in the dictionary, so that you don’t have to.

Criteria and Criterion. 

If you thought these words meant the same thing you would be completely misinformed.


Here we go.

Criteria is the plural form of criterion.

A criterion is a standard, but a criteria is two or more standards.

Adverse and Averse. 

Adverse is when something is really bad.

For example, you might have an adverse reaction to a common medication… which is bad.

Whereas to be averse to something is to be strongly against it.

Elicit and Illicit. 

Elicit is a verb.

For example, “The girl hoped her article on spelling would elicit a positive response.”


Illicit, however, is an adjective for something illegal, like illicit drugs.

Anymore and Any More. 

This one gets me every time

“I do not want to continue jogging anymore,” is one word.

But sometimes ‘any more’ is just like ‘any longer’, such as: “I do not need any more cake.”

Hanged and Hung. 

Hanged is only ever used if someone is killed through the process of being… hanged.

For example, “The villain was hanged in the town square.”

Hung, is the past tense of hang, for example, “I just hung out with my friends.”

Historic and Historical. 

A historic event is any event that occurred that was of significant value, for example, the election of Donald Trump might be considered an historic event.

Historical, however, is any event that occurred in the past.

Especially and Specially. 

Especially is the same as particularly or “above all”, for example, “I like all desserts, but I especially like cake.”

Specially is something that is done with a specific purpose, for example, “That cake recipe was specially designed for the wedding.”

Altogether and All Together. 

If you have never had these two confused you are lying. 


Altogether is referring to a whole of parts, for example “I am altogether confused by this assembly.”

Whereas “all together” refers to everyone being together and included, like “The crowd clapped all together in the assembly.”

Vice and Vise. 

This one is pretty simple once you get the hang of it.

Vice is a bad habit someone has, for example “Smoking is my vice.”

A vise is an object used to hold an object firmly or a specific type of tool.

Got it?

Stationery and Stationary. 

This is the most difficult differentiation yet.

Stationery is writing materials, like pens and pieces of paper.

Stationary is to be unmoving.

Warrantee and Warranty. 

A warranty is a written guarantee of something. You’ll often find these with electronic items.

A warrantee, however, is a person who is given a warranty.

Tortuous and Torturous.

This is tricky.

A tortuous trail is one that is super windy, with lots of twists and turns.

A torturous trail is one that is physically painful, and causes one a sense of torture.

Now go write a book or something!