Words confused: council and counsel

These words are often confused.

Council and counsel

The noun council is used to refer to an official group of people who have been selected to make decisions. The word council is an example of a collective noun. It can be followed by a singular verb or a plural verb.

Note that the plural verb is used when we are thinking about the individual members within the council.

The council is studying a proposal for increasing the drinking age.

The council are divided on the issue of increasing the legal drinking age to twenty-one.

The proposal has been rejected by the council.


The word counsel is a verb. To counsel somebody is to give them advice and help with their problems.

She has spent years counseling victims of domestic violence.

Since the boy exhibits violent tendencies, he needs to be counseled.

The word counsel can also be a noun.

The NGO provides counsel on a variety of subjects.

A person whose job is to advice people is called a counselor.

My sister works as a counselor at a school.

Canvas and canvass

The words canvas and canvass have the same pronunciation but their meaning is different.


The word canvas is used to refer to heavy cloth of cotton or hemp. Canvas can be used to make tents. It can also be used for paintings.


Canvass is a verb. To canvass is to solicit support or to ask for opinions.

The party supporters have been asked to canvass for their candidate.

He was expelled from his party for allegedly canvassing for their rival candidate.