‘Pair’ vs ‘Pear’ vs ‘Pare’: What’s the Difference?

By
Shanea Patterson,
updated on
March 3, 2023

The three of these words sound exactly the same, but what’s the difference? We’ll go over that, plus you’ll learn how to pronounce them and how to use them in a sentence correctly.

Need a short answer? Here’s the difference:

  • ‘Pair’ can be used as a verb to mean to put two people or things together. But as a noun, it means two of something (pair of shoes).
  • ‘Pear’ is a noun that refers to the sweet fruit (usually green or yellow) that grows on trees.
  • 'Pare’ is a verb that means to trim, remove, cut back, or make something shorter or smaller.

As you can see, these three words all sound the same, but they’re spelled differently, and they mean different things. Therefore, you should not use them interchangeably.

Commonly Confused Words: ‘Pair,’ ‘Pare’ and ‘Pear’

It’s easy to see why people confuse these words – they sound the same. That's because they're homophones.

There’s no way to distinguish between them if they’re not on paper without context.

So, let’s clear things up even more.

  • ‘Pair’ as a noun refers to two of something – shoes, scissors, gloves, socks, earrings, etc. But as a verb, it means to put two people together – the way a bride and groom put their bridesmaids and groomsmen together to walk down the aisle.
  • ‘Pear’ is a noun that refers to the sweet yellow or green fruit.
  • ‘Pare’ means to trim, remove, cut back, or make something shorter or smaller.

‘Pair’ vs. ‘Pare’ vs. ‘Pear’ – Grammar Rules

When you’re talking about fruit, use ‘pear.’

If you’re discussing things that come in twos, use ‘pair.’

But if you’re trying to say something was cut down smaller or shorter, cut back, or trimmed, use ‘pare.’

Definition of ‘Pair’: What Does ‘Pair’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘pair’ as:

  • Two corresponding things designed for use together
  • Tow corresponding bodily parts or members
  • Something made up of two corresponding pieces
  • Two similar or associated things
  • A set or series of small objects (such as beads)
  • To make a pair of
  • To arrange in pairs
  • To constitute a member of a pair

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Brace
  • Duo
  • Twosome
  • Couple

Definition of ‘Pear’: What Does ‘Pear’ Mean? 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘pear’ as:

  • A pome fruit of a tree of the rose family that typically has pale green or brownish skin, firm, juicy flesh, and an oblong shape where a broad base end tapers upward to a narrow stem end.
  • It also means a tree bearing pears.

Definition of ‘Pare’: What Does ‘Pare’ Mean? 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘pare’ as:

  • To trim off an outside, excess, or irregular part of or to diminish or reduce by or as if by paring.

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Bob
  • Cut
  • Clip
  • Cut back
  • Trim
  • Shave
  • Crop
  • Poll
  • Dock
  • Shear
  • Snip

How to Use ‘Pair,’ ‘Pear’ and ‘Pare’ in a Sentence

Now that we’ve covered the definition and the pronunciation let’s see some examples of how to use the words in a sentence.

Pair

  • I need to buy myself a new pair of shoes. The ones I have are falling apart.
  • In the Bible, God told Noah to put a pair of each animal on the ark before He flooded the entire world.
  • On vacation, I bought a new pair of flip-flops. I really like them.
  • I just bought myself a new pair of earrings for my birthday. It’s going to be a great day!

Pear

  • There are pears in the kitchen if you want to take one for a snack.
  • I think I want a pear salad. I need to go slice up some fruits and veggies.
  • My mom made me choose between a pear and grapes for part of my lunch.
  • I don’t know which one I like more – pears or apples. They’re both so good I can’t decide.

Pare

  • My dad made me help him pare the branches on some of the trees in our backyard over the summer. It was so hot.
  • My auntie always pares the rind from our lemons after we pick them from her lemon tree.
  • We pared the bushes in the summer, mowed the lawn in the summer, shoveled the snow in the winter, and raked the leaves in the fall.
  • We use knives to pare down the sides of our Jack-O-Lantern every Halloween.

Concluding Thoughts on ‘Pair,’ ‘Pear’ and ‘Pare’

To recap, we learned that the difference is:

  • ‘Pair’ is a verb and means to put two people or things together. But it can be used as a noun, meaning two of something (pair of shoes).
  • ‘Pear’ is a noun, and it refers to the sweet fruit that grows on trees.
  • Pare’ is a verb meaning to trim, remove, cut back, or make something shorter or smaller.

As you can see, these three words all sound the same, but they’re spelled differently, and they mean different things. Therefore, you should not use them interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always come back here to review what you learned. We’ve also got a ton of other content on confusing words and phrases you might see as you’re learning the language. Go check it out anytime.

Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.