Word Choice: Fair vs. Fare
  • 3-minute read
  • 14th June 2020

Word Choice: Fair vs. Fare

The words “fair” and “fare” sound identical, but they are spelled differently and have very different meanings. To make sure your writing is always error free, then, check out our guide to how they should be used.

Fair (Even Handed or a Public Event)

“Fair” is a tricky word with quite a few meanings! One of the most important is its use as an adjective to mean “right,” “reasonable,” or “even handed”:

All she wants is fair treatment.

That is a fair price to pay.

We must be fair to both sides of the conflict.

It also has other uses as an adjective, including:

  • To describe skin or hair as pale (e.g., A fair-haired boy…)
  • To say something is quite large or abundant (e.g. It’s a fair size…)
  • For something that is neither good nor bad (e.g., He made a fair effort…)
  • To describe pleasant, dry weather (e.g., It’s looking fair out today…)

In addition, “fair” can be a noun that refers to a public event. This is usually somewhere where goods are bought and sold:

We went to a craft fair at the weekend.

But it can also be a carnival with rides, games, and stalls:

I went to the fair and won a goldfish!

In all the cases above, though, the correct spelling is “fair.”

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Fair photo
A “fair” in the carnival sense of the word.

Fare (A Fee for Transport)

“Fare” has two key definitions you should know. The first is its use as a noun to refer to the money you pay for a journey in a vehicle:

He paid the bus fare and fount a seat at the back.

A related use is to refer to a taxi passenger:

The driver dropped off her fare at the airport.

The second key definition is its use as a verb that refers to how something goes (e.g., whether something succeeds or how well someone does):

She fared well in her final exam.

I tend to fare badly in hot weather.

This sense of “fare” is also where we get the term “farewell” from.

Summary: Fair or Fare?

These words can be confusing because they sound the same and have several meanings between them. However, there is an important difference:

  • Fair has many meanings, but it is usually an adjective meaning “right” or “even handed,” or a noun that refers to a public event.
  • Fare is usually a noun that refers to a fee paid to use a form of transport, but it can also be a verb meaning “to peform in a stated way.”

If you struggle to tell these words apart, though, remember that we have expert proofreaders available 24/7, who can help you with any spelling issues. Why not submit a free sample document today?

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