I'm not a native speaker and I have always heard that "sale" is pronounced "sail/say+l", and "sell" is pronounced "cell". But my teacher who is a lawyer always pronounces "sale" as "sell". He is not a native English speaker either but his grammar and vocabulary is very good and he really puts effort into making sure that whatever he speaks, he says it correctly.

He even spells it out when we're confused, saying "it's SELL. S-A-L-E - SELL."

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    If be "we" you mean the human race, and assuming your teacher is a human, then, yes, evidently we do. Jul 20, 2016 at 10:56
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    My real analysis teacher was a first-generation immigrant from China, and he pronounced "zero" as "GEE-roh", which caused no end of confusion in the early days of the class, until we worked or what he meant by that word (from context). Which is a long way of saying non-native speakers are not the best guides to pronunciation. But that's also not to say there isn't some native-speaker dialect with a merger that causes "sale" and "sell" to be pronounced identically. I'm not personally familiar with any such dialect or merger, but I know the phenomenon exists, e.g. the "pin/pen" merger.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 20, 2016 at 11:02
  • By "we" I meant to say "the native speakers of English language" and I include in them the British, the Americans, and the Australians.
    – Usman
    Jul 20, 2016 at 11:05
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    Sell or Sale? Does the difference between the words “sell” and “sale” seem confusing? I have known quite a few students who have trouble pronouncing those two words clearly, and some are not even sure which word is which! These two words use Short-e and Long-A. Distinguishing between those two vowel sounds is tricky for many students. :pronunciationcoach.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/sell-or-sale
    – user66974
    Jul 20, 2016 at 11:06
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    I'd have suggested he's saying "sell," which sometimes is used as a noun as in the expression "That's a tough sell." However, you say he spells it out for you as "sale." You also say he's a non-native speaker. I guess I'm not sure what the question is. He clearly has an accent, and so do you, so how you perceive it and how he says it seems to be a lot of the blind leading the blind. This really is a question betters suited for EL&U.
    – user184292
    Jul 20, 2016 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


The correct pronunciation of sale is the widespread one, viz. sail.

It is hard to perfect foreign accents, especially when you are used to speaking something one way thru out your life. Your teacher is only a human and can make a mistake, don't fret.

  • Ok I understand now :) Thanks for all the replies and comments!
    – Usman
    Jul 20, 2016 at 11:15

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