For Sale vs. On Sale
A reader asks,
When do you use the expression “for sell” instead of “for sale”?
Short answer: Never.
ESL learners must be puzzled when they see ads like these on the Web:
I have a nice Play Station 3 drum set for sell for 35 dollars.
We have a wristband for sell for $100 in the Des Moines, Ames, Carroll, Denison region of Iowa.
Find out if there are other products like yours already for sell.
Cheap Authentic (unused) Cartridges for Sell
Sell is a verb. Sale is a noun. Something that someone wants to sell is “for sale.”
Purebred Border Collie Puppies for Sale
Gently Used Clothing for Sale
Reliable Used Cars for Sale
The expression “on sale” may also present a little confusion to ESL speakers.
Sometimes “on sale” means that items for sale are being sold at a price lower than normal:
Prices slashed: all jump drives on sale at half price
This weekend only: premium mowers on sale at 20% off
When “on sale” is preceded by go, no drop in price is implied. “To go on sale” means “to become available for purchase”:
Ticket packages offer the exclusive ability to select tickets before they go on sale (i.e., before people who don’t have ticket packages are allowed to buy them.)
An iPhone with a Sapphire Screen May Go on Sale Soon (i.e., it may soon be possible to buy an iPhone with a sapphire screen)
When will Google Glass finally go on sale? (i.e., when will Google Glass be available for purchase by consumers?)
“For Sale” and “On Sale” have their uses, but “For Sell” is an unfortunate error.
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