The difference between buy, shop, purchase, and sale

I am going to tell you some points about the difference between buy, shop, purchase, sale in this post. So let’s start our discussion by taking a look at the meaning of these words in Oxford dictionary and get the points of these differences.

The difference between buy, shop, purchase, sale
The difference between buy, shop, purchase, sale


• Purchase, acquire, obtain, get, pick up, snap up; take, procure, pay for; invest in; informal get hold of, score.  e.g. they bought a new house. 
• Bribe, buy off, suborn, corrupt; informal grease someone’s palm, give a backhander to, get at, fix, square; Brit. informal nobble.  e.g. he could not be bought. 

• Purchase, investment, acquisition, gain; deal, bargain. e.g. (informal)a good buy.

Opposite: sell



• Buy, pay for, acquire, obtain, pick up, snap up, take, procure; invest in; informal get hold of, score. e.g. we purchased the software. 


• Acquisition, investment, order, bargain; shopping, goods; informal buy. e.g. He’s happy with his purchase

• Grip, grasp, hold, foothold, toehold, anchorage, attachment, support; resistance, friction, leverage. e.g. He could get no purchase on the wall.

Opposite: sell



• Store, (retail) outlet, boutique, cash and carry, emporium, department store, supermarket, hypermarket, superstore, chain store, concession, market, mart, trading post; N. Amer. minimart. e.g. a shop selling clothes.  

• Workshop, workroom, plant, factory, works, industrial unit, mill, foundry, yard. e.g. He works in the machine shop.


• Go shopping, go to the shops; buy, purchase, get, acquire, obtain, pick up, snap up, procure, stock up on; humorous indulge in retail therapy. e.g. He was shopping for spices. 

• (Brit. informal) inform on (someone). e.g. He shopped his fellow robbers.

•  Put up for sale, offer for sale, put on sale, dispose of, vend, auction (off); trade, barter. e.g. they are selling their house.

•  Trade in, deal in, traffic in, stock, carry, offer for sale, peddle, hawk, retail, market. e.g. He sells cakes.

•  Go, be bought, be purchased; move, be in demand. e.g. the book should sell well. 

•  Cost, be priced at, retail at, go for, be. e.g. It sells for £79.95. 

•  Promote; persuade someone to accept, talk someone into, bring someone round to, win someone over to, win approval for. e.g. He still has to sell the deal to Congress. 

Opposite: buy

The difference between buy, shop, purchase, sale
The difference between buy, shop, purchase, sale

So based on the above explanation for the words buy, shop, purchase, sale, we can understand some differences between them as the following:

Buy and Purchase:

  • Buy and Purchase are two words that are often used interchangeably and both of them have the same meaning while they are considered as synonyms.
  • Both of them mean to acquire something against money.
  • Both of them  are synonymous in daily usage. e.g I bought a new book. I purchased a new book.

However, there is some difference between Buy and Purchase, specifically regarding the contexts in which they may be used. Notice the following differences:

  • Buy is a general term which is most commonly used for referring to everyday goods and commodities, while, Purchase is considered to be a more formal word than Buy.
  • Purchase is mostly used for referring to contracts and big products, whereas Buy is inferred for small products
  • Purchase is mostly used for referring to acquire the possession of, or the right to, by paying or promising to pay an equivalent, especially in money
  • Buy is generally used for referring to acquire by the payment of money or its equivalent.

Notice the following examples:

Mr. Jones purchased a piece of land.
The government purchased a huge defense contract.
I will buy a new cellphone.

Shopping is referred to buying something by visiting a store, mall or Internet for getting the information. This process will be completed usually by comparing the prices and quality of various products to choose the right one between them. It is usually ruled by women.

Buying is referred to the process of going to a market with the intention of spending money with or without any specific item in mind or not.

Purchase is mostly used for the organisation or reselling, and someone who is called as consumer purchases goods and services for personal use.

About Ahmad Osmani

Ahmad Osmani
I am Ahmad Osmani, an English teacher, and translator. I have more than 15 years of experience. I have been the administrator and writer of the website since its creation. I have studied Translation Studies and English Language. I love learning and teaching different languages. My main profession is writing and translating and sometime I teach English in my free time.

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