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Fair vs. Fare #2

"Fair" and "fare" sound completely identical when they are pronounced. The only subtle phonetic difference is, of course, due to the slight spelling difference between these words. So what's behind this similarity?

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  Charlotte B  —  Grammar Tips
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Are these two words similar to the "mold vs. mould" scenario?  The same definition spelled differently in UK and US English? Or are there more notable aspects to learn about "fair vs. fare"? Read this article and find out!

Fair vs. Fare

Let's start with clarifying the roles of "fair" and "fare" in phrases - their grammatical functions. This is not necessarily the perfect explanation for why they can't and shouldn't be confused, but it certainly may help. Basically, "fair" is an adjective and "fare" is a noun. These are the primary roles of these words in phrases.

But, as many other English words, they can also change their grammatical functions according to the context. Therefore, "fair" can also be a noun or an adverb, whereas "fare" can be a verb. All the meanings and roles they may have in phrases, according to their functions, will be our focus in the following explanations and examples.

When do we use "fair"?

Primarily an adjective, "fair" is used to describe something equal - treating everything and everyone in the same way, without offering anybody an advantage. It also describes something correct, right or acceptable when referring to a deal. When describing skin or hair color, the same adjective is used to indicate pale or light color. When used to describe weather, "fair" means sunny or at least not raining, indicating good weather that can be enjoyed outside. And finally, "fair" as an adjective may also describe something that is average, neither very bad, nor very good.

At the same time, "fair" may also appear as a noun, and in this case will refer to an event where people sell or show products and services related to a certain hobby or business; or an event outside where large machines may be ridden for entertainment and games can be played in order to win prizes.

Finally, "fair" can function as an adverb inside English phrases, indicating a fair and honest way of doing things.

Example 1: It's not fair that their team always goes first. - "fair" is an adjective describing equal treatment for everybody, without any advantage for either party.

Example 2: We made a fair deal and we are both happy with the exchange. - "fair" can also describe something correct.

Example 3: The boy had fair hair and green eyes. - "fair" is used to describe light hair color.

Fair vs. Fare #2

Example 4: It was a fair day, with some early morning frost. - "fair" can describe good weather; a clear day.

Example 5: Their team had a fair chance of winning. - lastly, "fair" can describe an equal or balanced situation.

Example 6: We participated in a trade fair and sold so many handmade bracelets! - when used as noun, "fair" defines an event where people display and sell products or services related to a particular hobby or business.

Example 7: They decided to play fair no matter what their opponents did. - "fair" can also appear as an adverb, indicating an honest way of doing things.

When do we use "fare"?

A little simpler and easier to remember than "fair", "fare" is basically a noun that defines the price paid to travel a bus, an aircraft, a train etc. But, sometimes, "fare" can also be used as a verb. In this case, it is used in formal vocabulary, before an adverb such as "well", "badly", "better" etc., indicating how well or badly someone does or something feels in a certain situation.

Example 1: The train fare is quite high these days on the route you chose. - "fare" is a noun defining the price paid to travel on a train.

Example 2: I hope you fare well on your mission. - "fare" may also be used as a verb, indicating how well someone does in a particular situation.


There isn't any philosophy behind the pair of words "fair vs. fare". Coincidentally, they are spelled similarly and sound the same too. Despite this, they have completely different meanings and grammatical functions, as you now understand from the explanations provided within this article.

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