Professional Style

Fair vs. Fare

August 2018
Spot the Error

The eighth-graders from Cobb Middle School faired pretty well at the all-city track meet.

The issue here is another homophone: fair versus fare. The kids fared pretty well, not faired. Knowing the difference is a little tricky because there are multiple meanings of both fair and fare.

The less common word is fare, which (as a verb) means to experience good or bad fortune, as in the “track meet” sentence above. As a noun, fare is the cost of passage on some form of transportation (e.g., bus fare) or a range of food and drink (e.g., biscuits and gravy are classic Southern fare).

Pretty much everything else is fair. The sentence below uses fair correctly with three different meanings:

At the Orange County Fair, the fair-haired woman won the pie-baking competition fair and square.

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