pour, pore and poor - the difference

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
To pour means to tip a liquid out a container.
To pore means to examine closely. A pore is small opening in the skin.
Poor usually means impoverished or inadequate.

The words pour, pore, and poor sound similar, but their meanings are very different.

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game)

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The verb to pour means to transfer a liquid from a container (usually by tipping).

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


The word pore has two unrelated meanings:

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.
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.


The adjective 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).

  • 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?
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

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? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words