‘Serve’ vs. ‘Service’

Quarter Horses, stallion breeding mare, natural breeding

This pair of words can create amusing confusion.

Serve means to provide goods or services. For example, “This restaurant serves excellent steaks.” Or, “The waiter serves flaming desserts with great flair.” (Pun intended. Not sorry!)

Service, on the other hand, when used as a verb, has several specific meanings. The most common one is to perform maintenance or repair work on a machine – typically a vehicle. “My mechanic usually services my car in less than two hours.” Or, “Not every garage is equipped to service trucks and buses.”

A less common use of service is to describe animal breeding, where the male, e.g., a champion stallion or prize bull, services females.

Often, however, I see service misused for serve. Example: “Since it opened, the club has serviced San Francisco’s business and cultural elite.”

A sentence like this makes me wonder how one joins such a fun-loving group.

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