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Mistaken Words: Proceed vs. Precede, Further vs. Farther, and Fare vs. Fair

Don’t proceed with your writing until you read farther down this page!

There are many words in the English language that are similar in spelling and pronunciation, but they have very different meanings. It is important to be sure you are selecting the correct word since one word can alter the meaning of a sentence. Several misused words that were recently detected in manuscripts follow.

Proceed vs. Precede Precede means to come before or take place prior to something else. For example, “An abstract should precede the introduction and discussion sections of a paper.” Different from precede, proceed means to start or continue with an action or to go forward. For example, “After receiving feedback from the reviewers, the researchers proceeded to make the necessary revisions to their manuscript.” An easy way to remember the difference between the two words is that precede has to do with something before, while proceed has to do with something after.

Further vs. Farther It can be tricky selecting between further and farther when writing. When you use further in a sentence, you mean in addition to what has already occurred. For example, “The new software further upset the frustrated user.” In this case, the individual was already frustrated and the new software (likely malfunctioning) made the situation worse. Further can also mean to promote or advance: “She was hoping that publishing her paper would further her career.” However, when you use farther in a sentence, you are indicating a physical (measurable) distance. For example, “Where did the ball go? The ball rolled farther down the hill.” (To read further about further vs. farther and other words that are frequently confused, please see an article that preceded this one.)

Fare vs. Fair Fare means how things are coming along or how an individual manages or copes with an event. For example, “How did you fare with the tight publication deadline?” Fare can also mean the amount of money someone pays for a ride: “The bus fare was expensive.” While fare is a straightforward word, fair is not. Fair has multiple meanings. It can mean just, as in the sentence: “The defendant demanded a fair trial.” It can also mean to be in compliance with rules and regulations: “The athletes did not play fair and broke just about every rule.” In addition, fair can indicate agreeable weather: “The skies were fair, which eased our travel worries.” A fair can also be an event, such as a county fair or a job fair. Finally, fair can mean to possess delicate qualities, such as: “She had to wear a bonnet to protect her fair skin from the sun.”

As you can see, the words appear to be similar at first glance, but they have very different meanings. Now that you have proceeded to read further about the preceding words discussed farther down this page, you can rest assured that you are using the correct word as you write.

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