Pour, Pore, or Poor?

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. correct tick
  • "Pore" means to examine closely. "Pore" is also a small opening in the skin.
    • I will pore over the documents this afternoon. correct tick
    • A blocked pore can be caused by debris or dead skin cells becoming trapped in a hair follicle. correct tick
  • "Poor" usually means impoverished or inadequate.
    • My family were poor. correct tick
    • Her exam results were poor. correct tick
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? correct tick
  • Pour the molten steel onto a rotating drum that is cooled by water. correct tick


"Pore" has two unrelated meanings:

(1) To examine closely

  • He pored through the documents for hours looking for a loop hole. correct tick
  • I need to pore over these files before tomorrow. correct tick
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. correct tick
  • The sweat was leaking out of my pores. correct tick
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. correct tick
  • I am feeling quite poor this month. correct tick
  • Religion keeps the poor man from murdering the rich. correct tick
  • Poor show. correct tick
  • Will you take that poor animal to the vets? correct tick

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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This page was written by Craig Shrives.