Flair/Flare is one of my favorite homophones. Even though these words sound the same, their meanings are very different and these words are not interchangeable.
FLAIR: A natural talent or aptitude; distinctive elegance or style
Example: She had a real flair for soufflé.
Example: He wore that hat with a lot of flair.
FLARE: A fire or a blazing light (noun); to burn with an unsteady flame, or a sudden or brief burst of light, or to start up or burst out in a sudden, fierce activity (verb)
Example: My father always concluded his lectures by flaring his nostrils.
Example: The forest fire flared up with the increased winds.
How to remember the difference:
Flair – with an i – describes something that an individual is good at. Individual = i; flair = i.
Flare – with an e – describes a flame (either literal or figurative). Flame = e; flare = e.
If you have a flair for flares, you can plan the next July 4th fireworks celebration. If you have a flare for flairs? Well, that sounds dangerous. Not sure I’d want to see that.
Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this post originally appeared on PR Newswire’s Beyond PR blog. Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire, and (hopefully) has a flair for words.