Pour, Pore, or Poor?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Pour," "Pore," and "Poor"?

"Pour," "pore," and "poor" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms). However, their meanings are very different.
  • "Pour" means to tip a liquid out a container.
    • Please pour the coffee for our guests.
  • "Pore" means to examine closely. "Pore" is also a small opening in the skin.
    • I will pore over the documents this afternoon.
    • A blocked pore can be caused by debris or dead skin cells becoming trapped in a hair follicle.
  • "Poor" usually means impoverished or inadequate.
    • My family were poor.
    • Her exam results were poor.
pour, pore, and poor

More about "Pour," "Pore," and "Poor"

The words "pour," "pore," and "poor" are all common, and your readers will expect you to use the right one.


"Pour" means to transfer a liquid from a container (usually by tipping).

Example sentences with "pour":
  • Shall I pour the gravy?
  • Pour the molten steel onto a rotating drum that is cooled by water.


"Pore" has two unrelated meanings:

(1) To examine closely.
  • He pored through the documents for hours looking for a loop hole.
  • I need to pore over these files before tomorrow.
In this meaning, pore is a verb. Note: You can "pore over" something or "pore through" something.

(2) A small opening in the skin.
  • The dust clogs your pores.
  • The sweat was leaking out of my pores.
In this meaning, "pore" is a noun.


"Poor" means impoverished (i.e., having little money or few possessions), or low quality (e.g., poor crop), or unfortunate (e.g., That poor cat).

Example sentences with "poor":
  • As poor as a church mouse.
  • I am feeling quite poor this month.
  • Religion keeps the poor man from murdering the rich.
  • Poor show.
  • Will you take that poor animal to the vets?

Remembering "Pour"

Most confusion occurs with the words "pour" and "pore."

If you remember that "pour out soup" contains three sets of the letters "ou," it will help you remember the meaning of "pour," which only has one meaning. Therefore, everything else must be "pore." (NB: The word "poor" does not usually cause mistakes.)

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? cannot or can not? who's or whose? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words

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