Fair vs. Fare

I was reading (not editing) a news story about integrated oil  companies like Marathon and ConocoPhillips splitting their upstream and downstream business units into two separate companies. The author, a professional writer from Platts, was describing how high oil prices might be favorable for the upstream company, and then I came to a screeching, gasping
halt over the following typo:

“But how would standalone companies fair if prices now started to fall?”

The word “fair” is rarely used as a verb,  and then only when talking about the weather clearing up or two pieces of  something being joined together so the whole is nice and smooth.

Fair is usually used as:
–  An adjective that means pretty, sunny, or impartial.
Examples:
Pray, tell me, who is that fair maiden?
The weather has been the same for months: fair and hot and dry.
That’s not fair! You gave him the bigger half!

–  A noun that refers to a festive or competitive event.
Examples:
The line of people for the job fair snaked out the door in spite of the heat.
Big Tex is a statue of a cowboy that towers over the State Fair of Texas.

The word “fare” comes from an old Scottish word that means “to journey.”
As a noun, fare means food and drink, or the price paid for travel by bus, cab, train, or air.
As a verb, it means to travel or get along. To wish someone “farewell” is to wish them a pleasant journey.

Examples:
The service at that restaurant is superb, but the fare is only mediocre.
I would have taken a cab, but I had no cash for the fare.
How did you fare during your midyear review with Supervisor X?

So back to our typo; the corrected version should read:
But how would standalone companies fare (get along) if prices now started to fall?
Looks like we might be seeing how fairly soon.

2 Responses to “Fair vs. Fare”

  1. findingmyselfdotcom Says:

    This actually cleared up a lot of confusion for me. Thank you!

  2. marym625 Says:

    Thank you for the information. Truly. But I had to laugh at one of your examples. “That’s not fair! You gave him the bigger half.”
    How is one half bigger than the other half? By definition, they’re the same size. It should be “piece.”

    Hope you can laugh at this. No ill will intended.

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