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‘Sell’ or ‘Sale’: What’s the Difference?

Shaun Connell
April 9, 2024

Are you confused about the difference between 'sell' and 'sale?' If so, I can help!

Here is the short answer in case you are in a hurry: 

  • 'Sell' is a verb that means to offer products or services for purchase. 
  • 'Sale' is a noun that means the act of selling things. 

However, there is much more to learn about these words and how to use them grammatically. So, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Sell' and 'Sale?'

When it comes to the differences between 'sell' and 'sale,' the biggest is that 'sell' is a verb or action word, while 'sale' is a noun that describes the act of selling.

So, you use these two words in similar ways but in different parts of speech. That can confuse some writers, especially since some forms of each of these terms can be used differently.

For example:

  • Selling - Is present tense form of the verb 'sell.'
  • Seller - Is a noun form of the word 'sell.'
  • Sold - Is the past participle and past tense of the word 'sell.'
  • Sells - Is the present tense form of the verb 'sell.'

Definition of 'Sell': What Does 'Sell' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'sell' is a verb defined as:

  • Betray or deliver or give up in exchange for personal gain, loyalty, duty, or trust
  • To give to another in exchange for something, particularly through an exchange of money
  • To offer products or services for sale
  • To exact a price for goods or services
  • To deliver one into slavery for monetary gain
  • To give into the power of others or sell out

Synonyms and Similar Terms to 'Sell'

Look at the list of synonyms and similar words to 'sell' below. This list will not only benefit you by giving you terms that you can use interchangeably with the verb to prevent your writing from becoming repetitive. They will also help to give you a broader understanding of the word's meaning.

  • Market
  • Distribute
  • Merchandise
  • Vend
  • Advertise
  • Offer
  • Promote
  • Wholesale
  • Export
  • Put up
  • Carry
  • Hawk
  • Trade
  • Peddle
  • Remarket
  • Resell
  • Barter
  • Traffic
  • Stock
  • Tout
  • Bargain
  • Plug
  • Boost
  • Auction
  • List

Definition of 'Sale': What Does 'Sale' Mean?

The same dictionary lists 'sale' as a noun that means:

  • The act of selling goods or services
  • The transfer of ownership or title from one to another in exchange for money or a specified price
  • Demand or the opportunity to sell or to be sold
  • Auction or public disposal of items to the highest bidder
  • The sale of goods at bargain prices or prices less than the usual asking price
  • The activities and actions involved in marketing and selling services and goods
  • Gross receipts

Synonyms and Similar Terms to 'Sale'

  • Transaction
  • Deal
  • Bargain
  • Auction
  • Buy
  • Steal
  • Fair
  • Clearance
  • Trade
  • Closeout
  • Garage sale
  • Flash sale
  • Rummage sale
  • Clothing sale
  • Annual sale
  • Summer sale
  • Winter sale
  • Negotiation
  • Steal
  • Haggle

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Sell' or 'Sale'

Regarding similar sounding terms like 'sell' or 'sale,' pronunciation is vital because it indicates to others what you mean. If you mispronounce these terms, they can impact your message and confuse your audience.

So, here is a quick pronunciation guide you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'sell':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'sale':


As you can see, these pronunciations are nearly the same, which is why it is so important to use the correct one.

Writing Tips: When and How to Use 'Sell' vs. 'Sale'

Now that you know the difference between 'sell' vs. 'sale,' here are some writing tips to help you determine when and how to use each.

  • Use 'sell' as a verb to show that someone is actively offering items for sale.

For example, I might say:

Are you going to sell your products at the trade show this weekend?

  • Use 'sale' to ask if someone will offer discounted prices on the goods they provide.

As an example, you could say:

Are you going to have another sale on your fantastic products at this weekend's market? I heard you were offering discounts of up to 80% at the last one. 

  • Use 'sale' to refer to a transaction.

So, you might hear someone say something like:

Did you see my sale from yesterday? It was the biggest I've ever had!

Sample Sentences Using 'Sell' and 'Sale'

Here are some sample sentences using 'sell' or 'sale.' Read them to ensure you know and remember how to use each word in various contexts.


  • If you want to sell at the show this week, reserve a space and pay a deposit.
  • sell title insurance to lenders and home buyers for my escrow agency.
  • Will you ever sell your old car, or will you keep it until it loses all of its value?
  • I wrote a low-content book called, 'How to Sell Your Home in 30 Days or Less.'


  • Are you in sales? If so, you should come to our networking event this weekend.
  • How many sales did you have last month?
  • Did you ever close that home sale, or are the buyers still dragging their feet?
  • Do you have any specialty items for sale?


  • Are you in sales? If so, what do you sell?
  • Sales associates sell products for the companies they represent.
  • You can attend the event to tell share your sales tips and sell products for the companies you are associated with next Thursday, the 21st of January.

Wrapping Up: The Difference Between 'Sell' or 'Sale'

Finally, this completes this lesson. But before you go, take a look at this recap of what you learned about the difference between 'sell' or 'sale':

  • 'Sell' is a verb that means to market or offer products and goods in exchange for money or trade. 
  • 'Sale' is a noun that means the act of selling. 

Hopefully, this guide will help you remember the difference between these terms. However, if you wonder which word to use, you can always return to this page for a quick review of what you learned today.

You can also use this site to learn about dozens of other English terms writers commonly misuse. And you can also learn ways to kick off or improve your freelance writing career.

So, check out a few more guides before you go, and come back frequently to learn about the latest industry trends and best practices.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.

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