What's in a Word | All Blogs

Watch those vowels

By Debra Dobbins

What a difference just one vowel makes! Born Loser today correctly uses “stationary” with a final "a" to mean sitting still. A shift in just one vowel results in "stationery," or writing paper. Stationary is an adjective; stationery is a noun.

Similar words include "altar" vs. "alter." The first is a platform in a church; it is a noun. The second means to change, so it is a verb.

Consider, too, "allusion" vs. "illusion." An allusion is a reference that is indirect. (See blogs of July 15, July 16, August 24, September 10, October 18 and November 12, 2010) An illusion is a false image or belief. Both are nouns.

That's all for today. It's time to get out my Christmas stationery and write some more holiday letters.



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