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Poor, Pore, and Pour

Commonly Confused Words


Poor, Pore, and Pour

Adapted from A Pun My Word: A Humorously Enlightened Path to English Usage by Robert Oliver Shipman (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991)

The adjective poor means needy, impoverished, inadequate, or inferior.

As a noun, pore means a small opening, especially in an animal or plant. The verb pore means to read or study carefully.

The verb pour means to dispense a drink or other substance.


  • Abby planted yuccas in her garden because nothing else would grow in the poor soil.

  • The carbon dioxide storage method injects the gas into the microscopic pores of reservoir sediments 800 meters underground.

  • Merdine pored over the rules, searching for a loophole.

  • "Happiness is a perfume which you cannot pour on someone without getting some on yourself." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


(a) "____ down your warmth, great sun!" (Walt Whitman)

(b) My doctor encouraged me to ____ over the small print on the medicine label.

(c) Some types of make-up can block _____ and cause spots.

(d) A rich person who needed a kidney could buy one, but a _____ person could not.

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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