Council vs. Counsel | Difference, Examples & Quiz

Counsel and council are pronounced the same, but they have different (though related) meanings.

  • Counsel is a verb meaning “advise” and a noun meaning “advice” or “instruction.” It can also be used as a noun to refer to a lawyer.
  • Council is a noun referring to an advisory or legislative body of people.
    Examples: Counsel in a sentence Examples: Council in a sentence
    Amara counsels people who are grieving. The theater is funded by the national arts council.
    John sought counsel from his defense attorney. The council is responsible for the upkeep of the public park.

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    What does counsel mean?

    Counsel is a verb referring to the act of advising someone.

    Examples: Counsel as a verb
    The school therapist counsels students on how to manage stress.

    Jordan counsels people facing financial difficulties.

    He counseled them to avoid any hasty decisions.

    It can also be used as a noun to mean “formal advice” or to refer to a legal advisor.

    Examples: Counsel as a noun
    When the share price dropped, the CEO sought counsel from his advisors.

    The defendant’s counsel is contesting the court’s judgment.

    I advise you to seek legal counsel.

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    What does council mean?

    Council is a collective noun that refers to a group of people acting as an advisory or legislative body. It’s commonly used before other nouns (e.g., “member,” “housing”) as an attributive noun (i.e., a noun used like an adjective).

    Examples: How to use council
    Sara is head of the student council.

    The local council plans to pedestrianize the town center.

    A former council member has been arrested for embezzling funds.

    Worksheet: Council vs. counsel

    You can test your understanding of the difference between “council” and “counsel” with the worksheet below. Fill in either “council” or “counsel” in each sentence.

    1. The priest _______ members of his congregation.
    2. The defendant’s _______ had over a decade of experience.
    3. Next week, the _______ will vote on the proposed legislation.
    4. Fay offers _______ to union members about employee rights.
    5. The town _______ are seeking legal _______ concerning the misappropriation of funds.
    1. The priest counsels members of his congregation.
      • “Counsel” is a verb referring to the act of advising someone.
    1. The defendant’s counsel had over a decade of experience.
      • “Counsel” can also be used as a noun to refer to a legal advisor.
    1. Next week, the council will vote on the proposed legislation.
      • “Council” is a collective noun used to refer to an advisory or legislative body.
    1. Fay offers counsel to union members about employee rights.
      • “Counsel” can be used as a noun to mean “advice.”
    • The town council are seeking legal counsel concerning the misappropriation of funds.
      • In the first instance, “council” (referring to a legislative committee) is correct. In the second instance, “counsel” (meaning “advice”) is correct.

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      Frequently asked questions

      What is a synonym for “counsel”?

      There are numerous synonyms and near synonyms for the two meanings of counsel:

      Advise (verb) Advice (noun)
      Direct Direction
      Guide Guidance
      Instruct Instruction
      What is a synonym for “council”?

      Some synonyms and near synonyms for council include:

      • Assembly
      • Board
      • Committee
      • Commission
      • Panel

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      Ryan, E. (2023, March 14). Council vs. Counsel | Difference, Examples & Quiz. Scribbr. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/commonly-confused-words/council-vs-counsel/

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      Eoghan Ryan

      Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.