Sale is always a noun. It most commonly refers to the act of or an instance of offering things for purchase, a discounting of such things, or a completed transaction. It’s used in phrases like on sale and for sale. Sell is most commonly a verb, but it can also be a noun whose meaning is sometimes very similar to sale, as in It was a tough sell, but we convinced him to buy. What’s the difference between sale and sell?
Sale is always used as a noun. It has several common meanings:
The act of offering things (goods or services) for purchase: the sale of merchandise
A specific instance of doing so: bake sale; yard sale
A completed transaction: I made my first sale.
A quantity sold (often used in the plural): Sales are down this quarter.
A price reduction event: They’re having a 20% off sale.
The phrase on sale most commonly means “being sold at a reduced price,” but it can also be used more generally to simply mean “available for purchase,” which is what the phrase for sale means.
Sell is most commonly used as a verb (past tense sold), and it also has a few different meanings:
To offer something for sale—to offer it in exchange for money: a store that sells only hats; I might sell my car. The person or business doing the selling is called the seller.
To be sold (as in, to be bought): sell a million copies; These always sell well.
To persuade or induce someone to buy something: Don’t try to sell me on a more expensive model.
Or, more generally, to persuade someone to accept some proposal or idea: She really tried to sell me on the plan.
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