Council vs. Counsel: When to Use Counsel vs. Council (with Useful Examples)

If there’s one thing that the English language has plenty of, it’s confusing words. Some look exactly the same but are pronounced differently, some sound the same but mean completely different things, yet some seem to have nothing in common but actually have the same meaning. One of the pairs that are troubling many English speakers is counsel vs. council. As these two are spelled and sounding almost alike, they are often misused. Read on to find out what is the difference between council vs. counsel.

Council vs. Counsel: What is the Key Difference?

Council vs. Counsel

Definitions 

Council

council is a group of individuals who have been elected or appointed to address rules, laws, or decisions, or provide advice and guidance on various matters. Council is always a noun and often refers to an assembly of people who act in an advisory, administrative, or legislative capacity. For instance:

  • City council
  • Student council
  • United Nations Security Council

Counsel

On the other hand, counsel can serve as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to advice, guidance, or legal assistance provided by an adviser, a lawyer, or an attorney. For example:

  • Legal counsel
  • Financial counsel
  • Marriage counselor

Grammatical Usage and Examples

When it comes to grammatical usage, it is important to understand the differences between council and counsel. Here are some guidelines to help you use these words correctly in your writing.

Council in Sentences

Council is a noun that refers to a group of people who are elected or appointed to make decisions. Here are some examples of how to use council in a sentence:

  • The city council voted to approve the new budget.
  • The council members met to discuss the proposed changes.
  • The council’s decision was met with mixed reactions from the community.

Counsel in Sentences

Counsel is a noun that refers to advice or guidance given by someone with expertise in a particular area. It can also be used as a verb meaning to give advice or guidance. Here are some examples of how to use counsel in a sentence:

  • The lawyer provided counsel to his client throughout the trial.
  • She sought counsel from her mentor before making a decision.
  • We should counsel our children on the importance of good hygiene.

Helpful Tips for Correct Use

When it comes to using “council” and “counsel” correctly, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind. Here are some important things to remember:

1. Know the difference between the two words

The first step in using “council” and “counsel” correctly is understanding the difference between the two words. “Council” refers to a group of people who are elected or appointed to make decisions or provide advice, while “counsel” refers to advice or guidance given by someone in a position of authority or expertise.

2. Pay attention to context

Context is key when it comes to using “council” and “counsel” correctly. Make sure you understand the context in which the word is being used before deciding which one to use. For example, if you’re talking about a group of people who provide advice, “council” is the correct choice. If you’re talking about the advice itself, “counsel” is the right word to use.

3. Use the correct spelling

One of the most common mistakes people make when using “council” and “counsel” is using the wrong spelling. Remember that “council” has an extra “l” compared to “counsel.” Make sure you double-check your spelling before using either word.

4. Consider using synonyms

If you’re still unsure about whether to use “council” or “counsel,” consider using a synonym instead. For example, instead of saying “legal counsel,” you could say “legal advice” or “legal guidance.” This can help you avoid using the wrong word and ensure that your writing is clear and concise.

Council vs. Counsel Examples

Council Examples 

  • The council tax replaces the poll tax next April.
  • The council seems likely to overspend this year.
  • I received £500 from the local council in recompense for the damage to my garden.
  • The council must make economies to meet government spending targets.
  • The party is expecting to gain control of the council in the next election.

Counsel Examples

  • He is there to give you counsel on all matters.
  • He assisted me with good counsel and encouragement.
  • I was grateful for her wise counsel.
  • Therapists were brought in to counsel the bereaved.
  • I would counsel you to say nothing about the affair.

Practices 

Fill in the blanks 

  1. The city __________ is meeting to discuss the new zoning laws.
  2. She sought the __________ of her attorney before signing the contract.
  3. The student __________ provides a voice for pupils in school decision-making.
  4. After careful deliberation, he decided to follow his lawyer’s __________.
  5. The United Nations Security __________ convened to address the international crisis.
  6. As a mentor, he offered __________ to younger colleagues starting their careers.
  7. The local housing __________ is responsible for managing public housing estates.
  8. They received marriage __________ before their wedding day.
  9. The __________ of Elders has been a part of the community’s tradition for centuries.
  10. Good legal __________ can be invaluable during complex negotiations.

Answer and Explanation 

  1. Answer: council
    • Explanation: “Council” is a noun referring to a group that comes together to make decisions or laws.
  2. Answer: counsel
    • Explanation: “Counsel” is a noun meaning advice or guidance, particularly from someone with expertise like an attorney.
  3. Answer: council
    • Explanation: “Council” refers to a body or group that represents others, in this case, students.
  4. Answer: counsel
    • Explanation: “Counsel” as a noun means advice, especially legal advice given by a lawyer.
  5. Answer: Council
    • Explanation: “Council” is a noun referring to an authoritative or governing body, in this case, a part of the United Nations.
  6. Answer: counsel
    • Explanation: “Counsel” as a noun means guidance or advice given to someone.
  7. Answer: council
    • Explanation: “Council” refers to an administrative body in charge of certain public services or areas.
  8. Answer: counsel
    • Explanation: “Counsel” means professional guidance in personal or psychological matters.
  9. Answer: Council
    • Explanation: “Council” refers to a group of people who come together to advise or make decisions.
  10. Answer: counsel
    • Explanation: “Counsel” as a noun refers to advice given, particularly in a legal context.

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that the difference between council and counsel can be confusing, so we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help clear things up.

What is the difference between council and counsel?

Council is a noun that refers to a group of people who are elected or appointed to make rules, laws, or decisions, or to provide advice, guidance, or consultation. Counsel, on the other hand, can be used as a verb meaning “to advise” or as a noun meaning “advice or instruction,” or “a lawyer or group of lawyers giving legal advice and representing a client in court.”

How do I remember the difference between council and counsel?

One way to remember the difference between council and counsel is to think of “council” as a group of people who are “counseled” or advised by someone. Another way is to remember that “council” has an “i” in it, which stands for “institution,” while “counsel” has an “e” in it, which stands for “expertise.”

Can council and counsel be used interchangeably?

No, council and counsel cannot be used interchangeably. While they may sound the same, they have different meanings and uses. Using the wrong word can lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

Are there any other words that are commonly confused with council or counsel?

Yes, there are several other words that are commonly confused with council and counsel, such as “councilor” and “counselor,” “advice” and “advise,” and “principle” and “principal.” It’s important to pay attention to the spelling and context of these words to ensure that you are using them correctly.