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Sell vs. Sale: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on July 11, 2024
Sell is a verb meaning to exchange something for money; Sale is a noun referring to the act of selling or a discounted price.

Key Differences

Sell is an action verb that denotes the act of giving something in exchange for money or other compensation. Sale, on the other hand, is a noun that refers to the event or instance when an item is sold.
When someone wants to sell a product, they are engaging in the process of finding a buyer and negotiating a price. When that process concludes and the exchange happens, that event can be termed a sale.
If you sell your car, you are performing an action where you transfer ownership of the car to another individual. Once the transaction is complete, the car is said to be "on sale" if it was offered at a discounted price.
A store that wishes to sell its products will often have a sale to attract customers. Here, the act of selling is the action, and the sale represents the event or the discounted offer.
In essence, while sell involves the act of offering and transferring ownership, sale pertains to the event or occasion when such a transaction happens or the discounted offer itself.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



To give something in exchange for money
The act of selling or a discounted offer


"I want to sell my phone."
"The phone is on sale."

Used in a Phrase

Sell out (all items have been sold)
Flash sale (a short, often unexpected discount)

Tense Variation

Selling (present participle), Sold (past tense and past participle)
No tense variations as it is a noun

Sell and Sale Definitions


To betray or deceive someone.
You shouldn't sell your friends out.


An offered discount or reduced price on an item.
The shoes are on sale for half price.


To persuade someone of the merits of.
He could sell anyone on his ideas.


An event where items are sold at a reduced price.
There's a big sale at the mall.


To offer for sale and acceptance.
They sell their services to the highest bidder.


Transfer of property for money or credit.
The sale of goods.


To transfer ownership in exchange for money.
I want to sell my laptop.


The act or process of selling something.
The sale of the house was finalized yesterday.


To dispose of by sale.
They sell the fruit at the local market.


An auction.
The painting went to sale and fetched a high price.


To exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent
We sold our old car for a modest sum.


The exchange of goods or services for an amount of money or its equivalent; the act of selling
The sale of such a nice house should be easy.


To offer or have available for sale
The store sells health foods.


A selling of property to the highest bidder; an auction.


Is "sale" a noun or a verb?

Sale is a noun.

When someone says, "That's a hard sell," what do they mean?

They mean that something is difficult to persuade others to accept or buy.

What part of speech is "sell"?

Sell is a verb.

How do I use "sale" in a sentence?

For example, "The house is up for sale."

Can "sale" indicate an auction event?

Yes, an auction can be referred to as a "sale."

Can I say "I want to sale my car"?

No, the correct phrase is "I want to sell my car."

If I've already transferred ownership, have I "sell" or "sold" the item?

You have "sold" the item.

If I'm referring to a specific event where items are reduced in price, which word do I use?

Use "sale" for such events.

Can I use "selling" as the present participle of "sell"?

Yes, "selling" is the present participle of "sell."

Is "sales" the plural of "sale"?

Yes, "sales" can refer to multiple instances of selling or discounted offers.

Can "sell" be used as a noun?

Not commonly. Typically, "sell" is a verb, while "sale" is the noun.

If something is popular and quickly bought by many, can I say it "sells like hotcakes"?

Yes, "sells like hotcakes" means something is selling very quickly and in large quantities.

Can I use "sell" to mean "betray"?

Yes, as in "He sold his friend out."

Which is correct: "I sell my car" or "I sale my car"?

"I sell my car" is correct.

If a store is getting rid of its inventory, is it having a "sell" or a "sale"?

It is having a "sale."

What does it mean when a store advertises a "flash sale"?

A "flash sale" means a short-term discount, often unexpected.

What's the difference between "salesman" and "sale"?

A "salesman" is a person who sells products, while a "sale" is the act of selling or a discounted offer.

If I want to emphasize the action of selling, which word should I use?

Use "sell" to emphasize the action.

What does "sell out" mean?

"Sell out" can mean all items have been sold, or it can mean to betray someone for personal gain.

What's the past tense of "sell"?

The past tense of "sell" is "sold."
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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