The Red Pen: “Pore” vs. “Pour”

We Need to Talk About Grammar is a weekly feature in which I complain about grammatical mistakes I encounter all too often. Feel free to commiserate below, and check out the archives here!


“I’ve been pouring over my notes since last Tuesday, but I still don’t feel ready for Friday’s final.”

Pouring what? Your tears? That seems right.

This is a pretty common mistake. I think a lot of people must hear the verb “to pore” but not see it written very often, and thus mix it up with the verb “to pour.” “Pouring” implies the flow of a liquid from one space to another; “poring” is what you do when you’re concentrating really hard on your notes or a contract you’re about to sign.

Perhaps some confusion also stems from the fact that the word “pore” can also be used as a noun, meaning a small hole or opening, like the pores in your skin.

I guess I thought I had more to say about this than I actually do, so…let me know what you think in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “The Red Pen: “Pore” vs. “Pour”

  1. Oh my goodness. I used to do preliminary reviews of application essays for a library science graduate program, and I couldn’t even the count the times I saw this mistake: so many earnest applicants “pouring” over books or manuscripts or archival documents.

    • Ahhhh so unfortunate. But really, they should probably know the difference if they’re applying to a graduate program no? And a library science one, no less!

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