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Pair vs. Pare vs. Pear (Grammar Rules)

Prepare yourself for comparing the differences of pair, pare, and pear on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Here are three homophones that I absolutely adore: pair, pare, and pear. In fact, I wrote a poem titled "A Stoic Pear" that was an anagram for "ars poetica" in which I used the pair of words "pare" are "pear," partially because I just like the way they sound.

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's compare pair, pare, and pear to make sure we're using them correctly.

Pair vs. Pare vs. Pear (Grammar Rules)

Pair vs. Pare vs. Pear

Pair can be used as a noun or verb. As a noun, pair refers to two corresponding people or things. For instance, a pair of shoes, pair of hands, or pair of lovers. As a verb, pair is used to indicate grouping things into pairs. It's not uncommon to have a teacher tell students to "pair up into groups of two."

(Writing Mistakes Writers Make.)

Pare, on the other hand, is only used as a verb that refers to the act of trimming or reducing something. A common example would be that someone might pare the skin off an apple or pare down a paper from 2,000 words to 800 words to meet a word count requirement.

Finally, pear is a noun that refers to a type of fruit.

Make sense?

Here are a few examples:

Correct: Why can't I ever find two socks that make a pair?
Incorrect: Why can't I ever find two socks that make a pare?
Incorrect: Why can't I ever find two socks that make a pear?

Correct: You should pare down your speech if you want people to stay awake.
Incorrect: You should pair down your speech if you want people to stay awake.
Incorrect: You should pear down your speech if you want people to stay awake.

Correct: I would rather eat a pear than a banana.
Incorrect: I would rather eat a pair than a banana.
Incorrect: I would rather eat a pare than a banana.

Correct: Could you prepare a pair of pared pears from the fair?

No fancy memory tricks immediately come to mind when trying to sort out when you should use pair, pare, or pear. Maybe focus on how pare and pear have the same letters and that you can "pare a pear." Then, think about the spelling after the "p" of "are" (verb) and "ear" (noun) to remember which one is the action of reducing (verb) and the type of fruit (noun). 

After that, you've got "pair" which in a way describes the other two words, whether you're pairing them up or just mentioning a pair of words.

*****

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