When it comes to success in IELTS, the aspiring students of Bengaluru, Chennai and Coimbatore have their best choice in Sahasriya. The training methods of both IELTS Basic Course and IELTS Advanced Course are standing examples of success in IELTS achieved with surety. Sahasriya’s best quality IELTS training has led to 95+% success in IELTS and over 2,500 students clearing IELTS in their first attempt. With years of experience on IELTS, Sahasriya is the destination for high rate of success in IELTS. In Bengaluru or Chennai-Velachery and Porur or Coimbatore, everyday’s note on important aspects of English language is a standing example of high quality IELTS coaching. Today, it is about ‘Shelf‘ and ‘Shelve‘.

The words shelf and shelve are confusing. They are different parts of speech, but many English users are incautious, and use them interchangeably.

To make matters worse, the word shelves can be both a noun and a verb, and it is related to both shelf and shelve.

What’s a writer to do? Since you’ve made it this far, you might as well continue reading to learn more about these confusing words.

When to Use Shelf

Success in IELTS Shelf vs Shelve

What does shelf mean? Shelf is a noun. It is a horizontal surface upon which things can be placed. The plural form of shelf is shelves; multiple shelves might be collectively called shelving.

A bookshelf is a structure that has several shelves arranged vertically to maximize storage space in a small footprint. A bathroom shelf is a shelf in a bathroom.

Here are a few more examples:

  • If you look on the third shelf in the linen closet, you will find clean towels and a set of fresh sheets for the guest room.
  • Grandma placed her favorite trinkets on a high shelf in the living room, where hyperactive grandchildren could not reach them.

When to Use Shelve

Success in IELTS Shelve

What does shelve mean? The word shelve is a verb. It means to put things on a shelf, where shelf is the noun discussed above. It sometimes also means to decide not to move forward with something.

Here are some examples:

  • “I think we are going to shelve this idea,” said the chairman after none of the other board members could come to an agreement.
  • “Janakiram can shelve the new inventory while Mohan sweeps the floors,” said the manager of the grocery store.

Shelve cannot be used as a singular noun. Some English speakers might use shelve in place of shelf in informal conversation, but this usage is not considered correct.

Misusing shelve for shelf is probably a backformation from the plural shelves. Since many nouns become plural by adding the suffix -s, some speakers might mistakenly think shelve is the same way.

The confusion could also arise from the word shelves, which can be both a noun and the third person singular conjugation of the verb shelve.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Success in IELTS Shelf

Shelf is a noun and shelve is a verb. Even though the plural form of shelf is shelvesshelve is never a singular noun.

What’s an easy way to remember shelf vs. shelve?

Since shelve and verb both contain the letter V, remembering that shelve is a verb should be a relatively simple proposition.


Is it shelf or shelve? A shelf is a raised, horizontal surface used for storing things. The word shelve is a verb that means to decide not to move forward with something or to put things on a shelf. The two words are never interchangeable, although shelves is both the plural form of shelf and a possible conjugation of shelve.

In short,

  • Use shelf only as a noun.
  • Use shelve only as a verb.

This daily series is an effort by Sahasriya in providing best writing and speaking practices as a part of high rate of success in IELTS. These vital tips ensures a student’s aspiration with Sahasriya is the most effective which is what hundreds of students benefit from everyday.

About Govind Desikan

AvatarGovind, a master of English language has taken to sharing his experience on English language and focus specifically on finer inputs on English language, IELTS and PTE exams through his posts here.

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