English has a lot of confusing words and among the most confusing of them all are homophones. These are words that sound exactly the same when you say them, but they are spelled differently. There are hundreds of examples of words like this in English, with some of the most common being to/too/two, there/their/they’re, and compliment/complement.
What is the Difference Between Fair and Fare?
Today we are going to over the homophones fair vs. fare. Given that these words sound the same and their spelling is only a few letters apart, it can be difficult to know which word to use when. This post will cover their definitions, the differences between the two, and some tips on how to tell them apart.
When to Use Fair
Fair has a number of different uses. As an adjective it means of pleasing appearance, especially because of a pure or fresh quality; free of clouds or storms; in accordance with rules and standards; and moderately good, satisfactory. For example,
- She can’t be out in the sun long due to her fair skin.
- With fair skies and a cool temperature, today will be a great day for golf.
- I demand a fair trial.
- The performance was given fair reviews, nothing outstanding.
Fair can also be used as an adverb, meaning in a proper or legal manner or without cheating or trying to achieve an unjust advantage. For example,
- They were not playing fair, breaking every rule in the book.
- We expect all athletes to play fair.
Finally, as a noun, fair means an exhibition, as of farm products or manufactured goods; an exhibition intended to inform people about a product of business opportunity; and an event for the benefit of a charity or public good. For example,
- We bought a horse at the county fair.
- I heard about a new position at the job fair.
- Our church is hosting a fair to raise money for the homeless.
- “This year’s fair had 36 exhibitors based in Asia.” –The New York Times
The word fair also is a part of some popular phrases, including,
- By fair means or foul
- Fair and square
- A fair deal
- Fair enough
- Fair’s fair
- No fair
When to Use Fare
Fare has much fewer uses than does fair, so this list won’t be quite as exhaustive. As a verb, fare means to get along or to perform in a specific way. For example,
- How are you faring at your new project?
- We didn’t fare very well against the competition.
As a noun, fare means money a passenger has to pay on public transportation and a range of food and drink. For example,
- The city buses keep raising their fares.
- “Airline logic would see the last-minute buyer as an ideal target for extracting a punishing fare increase.” –The New Yorker
- This food is classic Southern fare.
“Fare thee well” is a popular expression using fare.
Remember the Difference
A good way to remember the difference between these two words is by looking at the last two letters of fare. The cost of a fare can be redeemed.
These two words are different in their meanings and it’s important to use the correct word, fare vs. fair.
Fair has many different meanings as an adjective, adverb, and a noun. It most commonly means just and unbiased, pleasing, clear, and clean, or a public exhibition event.
Fare can be used verb and a noun. As a verb, it means to go, get along, or succeed. As a noun, it refers to money spent for public transportation.