Easy English mix-up: cell and sell

The English language is filled with words that sound similar to each other but have completely different meanings. This week, we are going to focus on two such words: ‘sell’ and ‘cell.’

Sell – This is a verb that usually involves providing an object or service in exchange for money. ‘To sell’ is the infinitive form of the verb, and ‘sold’ is its past tense. This one is the easiest word to remember because it only has one meaning.

Cell – This word has many different meanings and is used to talk about very different objects. Here are the most common uses of ‘cell’:

• In biology, a ‘cell’ is the smallest structural and functional unit of an organism. The human body for example is made up of ‘cells’.

• In a jail, a ‘cell’ is the room where a prisoner is locked up.

• In the US, we refer to a mobile phone as a ‘cell phone’, short for ‘cellular telephone’.

There are many other technical forms of ‘cell’ but the three above will likely be the most common ones that you will hear.

The easiest way to remember the difference in your writing is: if you want to use a verb, use ‘sell’ and if you are talking about a noun, use ‘cell.’

I didn’t list all the definitions of ‘cell’ in this blog. Can you think of more meanings? Tell us in the comments below.

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