While similar-sounding words or homophones are already confusing for others, distinguishing between similar-sounding phrases may be even more difficult for some writers. This post will differentiate the phrases pore over and pour over and will show how to properly use them in your writing.
The phrase pore over is used as a verb which means “to read or study something very carefully.” It comes from the alternative meaning of the word pore which is “to gaze intently” or “to reflect or meditate steadily” as opposed to its common definition, “a minute opening especially in an animal or plant.”
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“Kollin Henneman studies opposing batters like aspiring doctors pore over medical books in med school.”
“We pause by the Rosetta Stone, the museum’s most visited object, pore over the stone carving found near Bethlehem that is believed to be the oldest representation of lovers, then he leads the way into a small gallery off the entrance hall.”
On the other hand, the verb phrase pour over means “to flood over someone or something” or “to cover or douse someone or something with something.” This is usually used when it has something to do with liquids.
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“Pour over the dressing and toss gently to combine.”
“Line a baking sheet with baking paper and pour over the meringue mixture.”
So despite their similar sounds, pore over and pour over are miles apart when it comes to their meanings. Pore over has something to do with studying or concentrating while pour over deals with liquids. Hopefully, this post helped you distinguish between the two phrases and you won’t commit the mistake of trying to pore over coffee while you pour over the local newspaper’s sports section.