Homophone of the Month: Fair vs. Fare

editors-cornerBy Chris Saylor

For one of my monthly features, I will be covering homophones. I’m going to explain the different meanings, and whenever I can, I’ll give you little tricks to help you remember the difference between them. If nothing else, you’ll at least realize going forward that these two words might be confused, and you’ll know when to look up the correct meaning.

(If you missed the first installment, homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things.)

Today we’ll look at fair vs. fare.

Fair has a number of meanings. Below are some examples of the word:

My wife is a very fair young woman (pleasing to the eye).

After the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, the Carolinas are now experiencing fair weather (not stormy or foul).

Judge Thompson has a reputation for handing down fair judgements (marked by impartiality and honesty, free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism).

I have a fair complexion and burn easily (not dark).

I went with my wife and her mom to the Brigden Fair (an exhibition with rides, competitions, and handmade items for sale).

On the other hand, fare means something entirely different. For example:

The restaurant’s fare was delicious (food).

We got an excellent deal on round-trip airfare to Australia for our honeymoon (the price of a leg of commercial travel).

This is one of those times when the important thing is to know that two options exist, and that you should look up what the words mean. There are too many meanings for the words to have a simple mnemonic device.

What words do you have trouble telling apart? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll make sure to feature them later.

Every Saturday for the foreseeable future, I’ll be here in the Editor’s Corner, simplifying some of these grammar concepts for you and showing you how they specifically apply to your fiction. Coming up next week is Vocative Commas.

Want to hire Chris for a proofread or copy edit? You can find out more about him at https://saylorediting.wordpress.com, or you can email him to talk about rates and availability at christopher.saylor21 [at] gmail.com. You might also want to check out the book he co-wrote with Marcy, Grammar for Fiction Writers, available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or Apple iBooks.

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