I came across the following dialogue in a text-book written by a non-native speaker. In the dialogue it says " In my hometown, water pollution is an important problem. There are a lot of factories and they pour their waste into the river."

Can we use pour here? I have looked it up and I couldn't find anything proper in my dictionaries. For instance, Longman gives this example The company was fined for dumping toxic waste in the sea. So can we use pour here or not?pour in the text-book

  • How do you know the writer is a non-native?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 11:07
  • The names of the writers are on the cover the book.
    – jeepers
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 11:18
  • Native speakers can have non-English names. The text is relatively simple, so it could well be written by a very competent speaker or by someone who is bi-lingual. I don't see anything that stands out as being awkward or clumsy sounding.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 11:20
  • “A car owner who does not know better can get the immediate idea to pour waste oil right on the ground or in a nearby pond.”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 11:28
  • 1
    @PhilSweet preferred where, by whom, in what context?
    – Spagirl
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


pour is (often)* used to describe anything in liquid form that moves in a stream, while dump refers to the disposal of any type of unwanted liquid and/or solid material. pouring waste usually refers to the disposal of liquid matter, while dumping waste suggests that the materials being dumped can either be liquids, solids, or (usually) the combination of both.

When it comes to general usage, dumping waste is much more prevalent, though pouring waste does have its uses, especially when it comes to describing the disposal of liquid waste.

Therefore, the textbook is technically correct in its usage of the word.

*Additional note: Pour can also be used to refer to non-liquid objects that come or go in a steady stream and in large numbers, e.g letters poured in, people poured out of the theater, etc. Despite this, the word is very rarely used in conjunction with waste itself.

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