Sale vs Sell? What is the Difference in Meaning and Usage?

Sale vs Sell? What is the Difference in Meaning and Usage?

Sale and sell are confused with each other very frequently. They both refer to the same action, but they don’t actually mean the same thing. These words are often used in place of each other even though they shouldn’t be.

Sale refers to something that is being offered at a lower price or something that is being sold. For example, the shirt is cheaper on sale, and I listed my bike for sale. Sell refers to the actual process of money being exchanged for something. For example, it was easy to sell that house.


Sale has a few different definitions. First, sale refers to the act of something selling. When you go into a grocery store, the food is for sale. At the mall, all of the clothing is for sale. This means the objects are available to exchange money for.

Sale can also refer to the opportunity to sell or the demand for something. For example, a sale was made quickly because the item is desired, or the sale took a while because the item isn’t desired.

If something is on sale, that means it is being offered at a discounted price. Many stores will bring customers in by having sales and listing their items for a certain percentage lower than the original price.

Finally, sale can also refer to an auction. When items go to an auction, they are going to be listed for sale. In most cases, items at an auction are bought for prices much lower than the market value, meaning they were bought on sale.

That store is having a massive sale, we need to go!

I listed my computer for sale, and someone bought it in less than thirty minutes.

That car is for sale at $5,000.


Sell also has multiple definitions. It is a verb that can be used with or without an object. When used with an object, sell means to transfer goods or services to someone else in exchange for money. For example, he said he wanted to sell his car.

Sell also refers to making a sale or offering an object for sale. For example, he told me that he will sell me his car for $4,500.

It can also be used when someone is trying to get you to buy something from them. The insurance agent was trying to sell me on the most expensive insurance plan.

When used without an object, sell refers to the actual process of selling something. For example, now would be a good time to sell. It isn’t clear what is being sold, just that it would be a good idea.

If you need money, why don’t you sell some things that you don’t use anymore?

I don’t want to, but I think it’s time to sell the house.

I went to the electronic store, and they kept trying to sell me the largest, most expensive TV.

What is the Difference?

The difference between sale and sell is the part of the process they are at. Sale is an item that is available for purchase and sell is when the item has been exchanged for money.

An easy way to remember the difference is to think of the A in sale as auction. Items in an auction are available to be sold.

Think of the E in sell as the exchange of money for the item. When you sell an item to someone, they are giving you money for it, and you are then transferring ownership to that person.

Both Words in a Sentence
The store owner agreed to sell me the computer at the sale price from last week.