Sell vs Sale

It can be hard to know when to use the word "sale" and when to use the word "sell." Using it in writing, in a client pitch or while on the phone with potential clients can be confusing. However, knowing the difference between the two similar-sounding words can be important on many levels. Different parts of speech and examples in linguistics reference sale and sell in many ways, but non-native speakers may get these words confused for American English uses.

Why "Sale" and "Sell" Are Important

These two words are often mixed up at the spur of the moment but can make a lasting impression. When selling a product, good grammar can help you seal the deal. When giving a presentation about a product or brand, correct usage, pronunciation and grammar can instill confidence in the consumer. Sale is the noun form, while sell is the verb form.

"Sell" in Action

The word "sell" is a verb. It indicates an action. It requires conjugation, such as “I sell,” “you sell” and “he/she/they sell.” For past tense, it would be “I sold,” “they sold” and “he or she sold.” These are usually followed with a definite or indefinite article to further describe the item or event.

For example: Your favorite store could be selling something, you may have sold your old gaming station online, or you maybe you want to sell some clothing so you can buy more. In all of these situations, using a variation of the word "sell" is correct.

Examples of using “sell” include selling processes, selling prices, a hard sell, the act of selling, a tough sell and something that is meant for selling. A real estate agent or realtor sells houses and properties. Selling something may include reduced prices for certain objects, in large and small businesses. Subscribers may sell their online time to buy into someone’s channel.

"Sale" Stands Alone

The word sale is a noun. It means a product is for sale or an item or group of items are offered at a discount price. It does not need conjugation in any form. If something is for sale, it is available to clients and consumers. It usually makes an appearance in a sentence with a definite or indefinite article, such as “the,” “for” or “a.”

For example: Your favorite store might have a Black Friday sale, or maybe you woke up early to buy your favorite item at the sale happening online. Using "sale" in situations that refer to an event or price markdown is correct.

Examples of using “sale” include having something being on sale, having a sale price, a salesperson, sales processes and sales strategies. You would not, however, use “for sell.” Potential buyers will look to sales in order to buy things. An asking price is also used in a sale setting, like Amazon, to charge customers for the product they want to purchase. A sale means to sell something and make a sale of an object in a transaction.

The Difference Between "Sale" and "Sell"

It’s subtle in sound but significant in its modifications. The difference between "sale" and "sell" can be hard to discern. Following are a few more examples of how to use "sell" or "sale" in a sentence:

  • He put the item up for sale on an online auction site.
  • The item is for sale at the outlet store.
  • He hopes to sell the item at a garage sale.
  • She wanted to sell the item online.
  • They sold their house.
  • My favorite store is selling everything at half off.

Pronunciation Considerations for "Sale" vs. "Sell"

When listening to consumers, clients, supervisors or presentations, it can be hard to hear the subtle difference between "sale" and "sell." The vowel sound is a long “a” in “sale” and a soft “e” in “sell.” It can be tricky to distinguish between the two when they are being pronounced. They are basically pronounced in the same place within the mouth. If in conversation, you cannot tell which word the other person is using, consider context and what the person is referring to. Using what you already know about the ways in which "sale" and "sell" are properly used will help you discern which word is being used.

Why Proper Grammar Is Important

Grammar is the foundation for communicating well. It can be tricky for students who are just beginning to navigate the groundwork of good grammar and those who are learning a language other than their native tongue. However, using correct grammar in speech and in writing shows care and a mastery of the language.

When working in sales, marketing or other product-related industries, having a good grasp of grammar can play a part in how others view the product. As a brand ambassador of merchandise or a business, your grammar will reflect on the perception a client will have about the product or company. If you are unsure of the word in the context in which you are using it, you can easily check words online for spelling, usage and correct pronunciation.

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