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Fair vs. Fare

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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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.

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.


The word fare originated from Old English fær, faru ‘travelling, a journey or expedition’, faran ‘to travel’, also ‘get on (well or badly’), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch varen and German fahren ‘to travel’, Old Norse ferja ‘ferry boat’, also to ford. The word fair originated from Old English fæger ‘pleasing, attractive’, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German fagar.

Fare as noun:

Fare is used as a noun which means the money paid for a journey on public transport.

We should go to Seville, but we cannot afford the air fare.

Fare as verb:

Fare is also used as a verb which means to perform in a specified way in a particular situation or over a particular period.

The party fared badly in the elections.

Fair as adjective:

Fair is used as an adjective which means treating people equally without favouritism or discrimination.

The group has achieved fair and equal representation for all its members.

Fair also refers to hair or complexion of light tone; blonde.

A pretty girl with long fair hair was walking down the street.

Fair vs. Fare

Fair as adverb:

Fair is also used as an adverb which means without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage.

No one could say he played fair.

Fair as noun:

Fair is also used as a noun which means a beautiful woman.

He was pursuing his fair in a solitary street.


At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving. [Los Angeles Times]

Major League Baseball’s annual trade fair is underway in Dallas. [National Post]

Commuters could be offered cheaper early morning fares in an attempt to ease congestion on London’s transport network. [Evening Standard]

Spring Hill prison has seen its fair share of hairy inmates. []

Fair or fare:

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. 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.


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