Pouring or Poring? Pour, Pore or Poor?

In another of our spelling and grammar check series, here we're looking at when to use pouring, and when to use poring. There are certainly errors more common than getting these two words confused, but there are enough people who do get it wrong that maybe we should mention it! In fact, I think the most common problem with these two words is that many people don't realize that poring, without the "u", even exists.

Pouring or Poring, Pour or Pore?

So, I think most people know the most common ways in which pouring (or pour) is used. Here are some examples:

  • On Monday it was pouring down with rain.
  • I like to pour milk into my coffee slowly.
  • The jug broke as I was pouring syrup on the pancakes.

That usage of pouring can be described with these definitions of the word:

  • to cause to flow in a stream
  • to supply or produce freely or copiously (e.g. they poured money into the new business)
  • to give full expression to (e.g. she was upset and poured out her feelings)
  • to move or come continuously (e.g. the complaints soon poured in)

However, it's not entirely uncommon for people to mistakenly use the word in a sentences such as these:

  • Anna studied hard, and was pouring intently over her books.   - This is wrong!
  • Anna studied hard, and poured over her books for hours.    - This is wrong!

Indeed, although the sentences are incorrect, we might still surmise what the writer is trying to say, as both pouring and poring (and poured / pored) do sound the same. However, the wrong word is being used here. The correct way to write the previous examples would be:

  • Anna studied hard, and was poring intently over her books.   - This is correct!
  • Anna studied hard, and pored over her books for hours.    - This is correct!

So, pouring and poring have completely different meanings, even though they sound the same and look very similar. Definitions of poring (or to pore) would include:

  • to gaze intently
  • to read or study attentively (this usually used with the word over, as in pored over)
  • to reflect or meditate steadily

It should also be noted that pore, as a noun, also refers to a tiny opening  - especially in an animal or plant matter - this type of pore is what you'll often see or hear being referred to in skin care commercials, when they talk about facial pores.

And what about Poor?

And, or course, besides these two words sounding the same as each other, another word which looks  similar and sounds the same is poor. This version of the spelling usually relates to having a lack of resources (e.g. very little wealth), or to being inferior in some way. It can also be used to show pity. Here are some examples of using poor:

  • The family were very poorand had no shoes to wear.
  • It's a very poor bus service at the weekends.
  • The poor little puppy was hungry and lost.
  • Jack worked three jobs but still felt poor.

Hopefully all of the examples above will help you to correctly decide when to use pouring or poring, and pour, pore, or poor.