Humanities › English Fair vs. Fare: How to Choose the Right Word Only one refers to equality and justice Share Flipboard Email Print Remsberg Inc / Design Pics / Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing Table of Contents Expand How to Use "Fair" How to Use "Fare" Examples How to Remember the Difference Sources By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated April 06, 2019 The words "fair" and "fare" are homophones, meaning they sound alike but have different meanings. One can be used as a noun or an adjective, and the other can be used as a noun or a verb. How to Use "Fair" The noun "fair" (as in "state fair") refers to an exhibition, exposition, or public event where there is often food and entertainment. The adjective "fair" has a range of meanings, including just, unbiased, pleasing, clear, and clean. How to Use "Fare" The noun "fare" refers to food and drink or to a transportation fee (as in "bus fare"). The verb "fare" means to go, get along, or succeed (as in "fare thee well"). Examples As an adjective, "fair" is often used to describe someone or something that is impartial and just, such as a neutral authority like a judge: The judge was harsh but fair; she handed down a sentence that was appropriate for the crime. The rules of the game are fair—both teams have an equal chance of winning. "Fair" describes someone or something that is pleasing and attractive as well: The knight hoped to draw the attention of a fair maiden. The adjective is also used to describe something of a moderate condition or a moderately large amount: Though the house was old, it was still in fair shape. By the time he retired, he had saved a fair amount of money. As a noun, "fair" refers exclusively to gatherings, recreational or professional, where there are exhibitors or vendors: They bought kettle corn at the county fair. "Fare" is also a noun, though it refers either to the price of transportation or something offered for entertainment or consumption, especially food: The city has raised the bus fare to $3 per ride. They enjoyed fine Italian fare at the new restaurant. As a verb, "fare" means to perform in a certain way (it often works as a synonym for "get on"): Because of his knee injury, he did not fare well in the race. How to Remember the Difference There are a few tricks for keeping "fair" and "fare" straight. The first one is simple—if it's an adjective, it's "fair." The adjective "fair" has a range of meanings, and you may need to use context clues to figure them out, but it's always spelled "fair." If the word is used as a verb, however, it's always "fare." Things get a little more complicated once we move beyond adjectives and verbs. Both "fair" and "fare" can be used as nouns. One way to remember the difference is with this sentence: We enjoyed excellent fare at the fair. The "fare" is the food itself; the "fair" is the gathering at which it is eaten. Sources Straus, Jane. "The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: The Mysteries of Grammar and Punctuation Revealed." John Wiley & Sons, 2006, p. xxxix. Strumpf, Michael, and Auriel Douglas. "The Grammar Bible." Owl (Henry Holt and Co.), 2004, p. 185. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Nordquist, Richard. "Fair vs. Fare: How to Choose the Right Word." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/fair-and-fare-1689559. Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 26). Fair vs. Fare: How to Choose the Right Word. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/fair-and-fare-1689559 Nordquist, Richard. "Fair vs. Fare: How to Choose the Right Word." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/fair-and-fare-1689559 (accessed May 10, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: Do You Know When to Use Affect vs. Effect?