It can be challenging to tell the difference between these two words because they sound the same and look similar in the way they are spelled, but they have different meanings and are used differently. The word counsel can be used as a noun and a verb while the word council is only used as a noun. Both these words are found in the realms of counseling and meetings of elected members of a council. This common ground leads to the confusion between these two words. Despite the fact that they sound the same and look similar they are used differently.
All about Council
The word council refers to a body of people elected to perform a specific function. A council is most likely to be part of an administration or municipal organization. The people on the council, the councilors, are dedicated to their role within their council. The council is the body of people who represent the others in their common group. The city council, for example, represent the people of that city. A council can be appointed to meet and discuss common problems or issues affecting their organization. The National Teachers’ Council will consist of members involved in education and will discuss the needs of their group. The word council may be used as an adjective to describe assets or events surrounding the designated group. A council house is therefore a house that is part of the council administration. The council grounds would be land belonging to the council of a particular city and the council decides how these grounds are to be used.
Word usage for Council
Seeing the word council in sentences is an additional method of understanding it in context and becoming familiar with its meaning. In the sentences below the word council is used as a noun and an adjective to describe a type of house.
- The city council met to discuss the restoration of roads in the central business area.
- There were five council houses available for rental in the new year. The city council would decide who the successful applicants were to become the future tenants.
All about Counsel
Counsel is a little more complicated to understand because it can be used as a noun and a verb. Counsel in its role as a verb, will say something to offer help or give advise. Counsel gives advise and people benefit from this advise. In legal circles you seek counsel for the advise required in a legal dispute. In its role as a noun counsel is the adviser or counselor. This person is a member of a support group or a help line and gives advice. Students often seek counsel from student counselors during their course of education. Counseling therefore comes from a person who gives this advice or counsel sought in a time of need. The English idiom ‘keep ones own counsel’ is often used to illustrate a person should keep their ideas ad thoughts to themselves.
The following proverbs may help to understand the use of the word counsel.
‘To give counsel to a fool is like throwing water on a goose.’ (Danish proverb) In other words don’t waste your time advising a foolish person.
‘Give neither counsel or salt until asked for it.’ (Italian proverb) This saying reminds us that counsel is something we may only need when we ask for it to help in a situation. Just as not everyone needs salt on their food so not everyone needs another person’s advice.
Good counsel is known to guide leaders in the direction of peaceful governance.
“When a king has good counselors his reign is peaceful.’ (Ghanaian proverb)
Word usage for counsel:
Seeing the word counsel in context and part of a sentence using its noun form or its verb form helps with the understanding of this word that can be either a noun or a verb.
- I wish I had listened to the wise counsel given to me by my tutor at university.
- The counsel for the defense was appointed by the judge presiding over the case to ensure the accused had fair representation.
- The helpline takes calls asking for their counsel on topics of personal distress.
The difference between these two words, by comparing their role in spoken and written language. It is easy to see how the word council is easier to discern
Council, being a noun, is easier to understand because it applies to tangible objects or chosen people. It is easily recognizable as the group of people elected to represent others. Council as an adjective describes objects or areas belonging to people. Counsel on the other hand is more complex because it can be used as a noun a concrete concept or a verb an abstract concept. A legal advisory or barrister is the legal counsel, the person given to support the accused in a court of law. The actual counsel, giving of advise or ‘wise counsel’ is the act of advising someone in need of help. People of all ages and walks of life seek good counsel. The concept of good counsel is seen as part of history and mentioned in biblical times. There are several references to good counsel in Proverbs for example Proverbs 12:15 says ‘the way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.’
In the final analysis these words are different but often confused because they look and sound similar. The opportunity to use words like council and counsel does not come up often and because they are often part of a specific aspect of the workplace it is understandable that confusion would occur between counsel and council.