Council vs. Counsel – Difference & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Oh, the English language is a funny system, isn’t it? We just love making words sound and spell similarly but give them completely different meanings, like counsel and council, for example. To me, they sound exactly the same, but there’s a slight difference in pronunciation. Let’s break down the meanings and how to say these two words properly.

Key Differences Between Council and Counsel

httpsgrammarist.comspellingcouncil counsel

Council is mainly used in the context of government, organizations, and communities, while counsel is more commonly used in the context of giving and receiving advice or legal matters.

Definition of Counsel

Let’s talk about counsel for a second. It can actually be used as a verb or a noun. In a verb form, it means to give advice or guidance.

For a verb example, I could say, “I counseled her on the best course of action in a legal context” if I were giving someone advice or guidance or if I were an attorney or legal advisor.

But it can also be a noun. If I sought counsel from a lawyer before making a decision, counsel became a noun in that context.

When referring to a single person, like a legal adviser or therapist, you could call them a counselor as well.

Meaning of Council

A council is a group of elected individuals who are appointed or elected to make decisions, provide advice, or govern an organization or community. Like, a city council would consist of your town’s mayor, secretary, treasurer, etc.

I’d like to add that you might also recognize the word from a Fantasy setting like T.V., movies, and books. A council of elders, or the Shadowhunter council, for example.

Is It Legal Council or Counsel?

If you’re seeking the help or legal advice of a lawyer, it’s legal counsel.

Is It General Council or Counsel?

It’s a general council in every context, as far as I know.

How Do You Use Counsel in a Sentence?

Before making any major investment decisions, it’s always smart to seek counsel from a financial advisor.

  • They counseled the student on how to handle the stress of final exams.
  • I always take my best friend’s counsel when it comes to relationship matters.
  • The company provided counsel to its employees on how to manage their finances.
  • The lawyer’s counsel helped the client win the case in court.
  • My therapist’s counsel was instrumental in helping me overcome my addiction.
  • The employee sought counsel from the HR department on how to deal with the bullying at work.
  • Our company’s counsel helped the management team navigate complex legal issues.
  • My therapist’s counsel helped the patient work through their traumatic past.
  • I always seek counsel from my mentor before making any important business decisions.

How Do You Use Council in a Sentence?

  • Our church council met with the city to discuss the proposal for a new community center.
  • Their school council voted on the new dress code policy.
  • I’m so happy that the city council is considering a proposal to build a new park in the downtown area.
  • Our board of directors held a quarterly council meeting to discuss the company’s strategy for the upcoming year.
  • Isn’t it amazing that the student council organized a charity event to raise money for a local non-profit organization?
  • The council of ministers discussed the country’s economic situation and made a decision to implement new measures.
  • In the past, a council of elders was responsible for making important decisions for the tribe.
  • The council of scientists was formed to advise the government on environmental policy.
  • A new curriculum was planned and organized by a council of educators.
  • The council of architects met to plan the design of the new public library.

Pronouncing Counsel and Council

Counsel is spoken as kown-sel, and council sounds like kown-sl. Such a minor difference, it’s had to even notice to the ear.

In the End

Council and counsel are really similar in so many ways, but they have distinct meanings and uses, and it’s important to understand the difference. Council is a group of people appointed or elected to make important decisions. Counsel can actually be used as both a verb and a noun, and it means to give or seek advice or guidance.