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by Davy Kraken
A library featuring commonly committed errors of the English language.
|No, these spellings are not interchangeable. There is quite a significant difference between them, in fact. Fiancé refers to a male engaged to be married, while fiancée refers to a female engaged to be married. If you have trouble remembering which sex gets one E and which gets two, you can refer to the number of E’s in the words “male” and “female.” “Male” has one E, as does the word for a man engaged to be married; and “female” has two E’s, as does the word for a woman engaged to be married. An accent is placed over the first (or only) E.
Personally, as a science-minded person, the way I taught myself to remember the distinction, before I became aware of the above method, was to match the number of E’s to the typical number of X sex chromosomes in a person: men’s sex chromosome makeup is usually XY, while women are typically XX; thus, one E for a male engaged to be married and two for a female engaged to be married. If remembering the workings of sex chromosomes isn’t your strong suit, however, then you can always do the reverse of what I do and use the number of E’s in male/fiancé and female/fiancée as a guide to each sex’s usual X chromosome count!