Difference between “Sell” and “Sale”

Sale vs Sell: What's the Difference?

Sale vs Sell: What’s the difference?

The words “sell” and “sale” are often confusing because they sound similar and are related to the same topic of buying and selling. However, these two words play different grammatical and functional roles in the English language. Let’s look at these words in more detail:

  • Sell is a verb. It means the action of transferring ownership of a good or service from a seller to a buyer for a price. For example: “I want to sell my car.”
  • Sale is a noun. It can refer to either the act of selling itself, or a period when goods are sold at reduced prices. For example: “The store has a sale this weekend.”

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference:

  • If you are doing something (an action), it’s “sell”.
  • If you are talking about an event or offering, it’s “sale”.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each word and some examples.

Sell – meaning and examples of use

Sell is a verb that means the process of selling something to someone. It describes an active action, where something is transferred from a seller to a buyer, usually in exchange for money. For example:

  • They are selling their house.
  • She sells handmade jewelry online.

“Sell” is an irregular verb. Its past tense and past participle forms are “sold”.

  • Present Tense: sell/sells (He sells, They sell)
  • Past Tense: sold (He sold, They sold)
  • Past Participle: sold (The car is sold)

The word “sell” in English has several meanings and usages, depending on the context:

  • To sell – to transfer a good or service in exchange for money. E.g. “They sell cars at that dealership.”
  • To persuade – to convince someone to accept an idea or plan. E.g. “He can sell anyone on his business ideas.”
  • To betray – used metaphorically when someone betrays others’ interests for personal gain. E.g. “He sold out his colleagues to get a promotion.”


  • “I sold my bike yesterday.”
  • “This product sells itself; it’s so good!”
  • “They are selling their house because they are moving abroad.”

Sale – meaning and usage examples

Sale is a noun that relates to the act or process of selling, but can also indicate an event during which items are sold at reduced prices. For example:

  • The store is having a big sale next week.
  • I bought this dress at a 50% sale.

“Sale” refers to the actual process of selling or the discounted price of an item. “Sale” is a noun and has both a singular and plural form (sale/sales).

  • It is used after the prepositions “for” and “on” to indicate availability for purchase or a discounted price. E.g. “The car is for sale.” or “The books are on sale.”

The word “sale” in English is used as a noun and has several meanings:

  • Exchange of goods for money: This is the core meaning, when goods are sold for money. E.g. “The sale of the house was completed yesterday.”
  • Amount of goods sold: Indicates sales volume/numbers. E.g. “The company reported an increase in sales this quarter.”
  • Activity or business of selling products: Refers to the process or profession of selling. E.g. “She works in sales.”
  • Period of reduced prices: Often used to describe a time when stores offer items at discounted prices. E.g. “I bought this dress on sale.”
  • Charitable or public event where goods are sold. E.g. “The church is having a bake sale this weekend.”


  • “The sale of tickets will start next Monday.”
  • “During the sale, customers can find many items at discounted prices.”
  • “The company’s sales have increased by 20% this year.”


So the main difference between “sell” and “sale” is that “sell” is a verb meaning the action of selling something, while “sale” is a noun relating to the process or result of selling. Using these words correctly will allow you to clearly express your thoughts about trade and business in an English-speaking environment.

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