Commonly Confused Words: Fair vs. Fare

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What does each word mean?

A fair is a travelling or periodic exhibition of stalls, rides, or games. 

As an adjective, fair is used to describe something that is free of favouritism, cheating, or bias. The word can also be used to describe good weather, something that has a reasonable chance of happening, and skin and hair that is light-coloured. 

Here is fair used in some example sentences:

  • There’s a Ferris wheel at the funfair
  • The farmer sold her cheeses at the fair
  • Make sure you play in a fair way. 
  • It was a fair winter’s day. 
  • They thought they had a fair chance of winning
  • The waiter had fair hair. 

Look up fair in the Spellzone dictionary.  

As a noun, fare describes the charge for a journey on public transport or the type of food and drink served in a particular place. As a verb, fare describes the act of proceeding or getting along. 
Here is fare used in some example sentences:

  • How much is the bus fare?
  • The company will pay your taxi fare.
  • The restaurant served traditional fare.
  • How is she faring after her illness?
  • How are you faring at your new job?

Look up fare in the Spellzone dictionary.  

Where does each word come from?

Fair comes from the Old English ‘fæger’ meaning ‘pleasing to the sight’, ‘pleasant’, and ‘morally good’. ‘Fæger’ comes from the Proto Germanic ‘fagraz’, perhaps from the PIE ‘pek’ meaning ‘to make pretty’.  The word took on the meanings ‘light-coloured’ and ‘just’ in the early-thirteenth century. 

Fare comes from the Old English ‘faren’ meaning ‘to journey’ or ‘to be in a particular condition’, from the Proto Germanic ‘faranan’ meaning ‘to go’. The word’s ‘food’ meaning dates to the early-thirteenth century.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between fair and fare?

Fair has the word air in it. Think of flying through the air on a funfair ride to help you remember how to spell the word. 

Fare has the word far in it. Think of a bus driver asking how far you are going to help you remember how to spell the word.

Find more Commonly Confused Words blog posts.

21 Apr 2022
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"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students!  I'm sure Spellzone will be invaluable in helping them to improve their spellings and therefore improve the quality of their writing in all subject areas!"

Teacher, High School, UK