The Grammar GuideSpellingWhat is the difference between 'by' and 'buy'?

What is the difference between 'by' and 'buy'?

What is the difference between 'by' and 'buy'?

The words by and buy are often confused because they have the same pronunciation but different meanings. In this article, we explain the difference between them.

By means near or next to when used as a preposition.

Buy means to obtain (something) in exchange for money or goods when used as a verb.

A good way to remember the difference is By only has two letters so they have to be side-BY-side.

Out of the two words, 'by' is the most common. It appears about 110 times more frequently than 'buy'.



Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. They are easy to confuse.

By is a preposition that means "near or next to, along, through the medium of."

Buy is a verb that means "to obtain something in exchange for money or goods, to purchase." It can also be a noun that refers to something that has been bought.

Should it be 'by the fact that' or 'buy the fact that'?

The right expression is 'by the fact that'. These phrases are often confused because they are homophones.

Should I use 'by means of a' or 'buy means of a'?

The correct expression is 'by means of a'. These phrases are often confused because they are homophones.

Is the phrase ', and by the' or ', and buy the'?

The right phrase is ', and by the'. These phrases are often confused because they have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Is the expression 'by the end of' or 'buy the end of'?

The right expression is 'by the end of'. These phrases are often confused because of their similar sound.

Should I use 'by the United States' or 'buy the United States'?

The correct expression is 'by the United States'. These phrases are often confused because they are homophones.

Is the right expression 'buy in to' or 'by in to'?

The right phrase is 'buy in to'. These phrases are often confused because they are homophones.

Some synonyms of by are: past, along, next to, near.

Some synonyms of buy are: acquire, purchase, shop for, pay for.

Never confuse by and buy again. Install our free grammar checker browser extension.

The definitions in this article were adapted from Wiktionary.

Dictionary Definition of byDictionary Definition of buy

Examples of by in a sentence

Sometimes she could silence these by digging sharply down towards the sciatic nerve.
- From Russia with love: a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming
Books by B.J. Daniels
- Mystery Bride by B. J. Daniels
Are you bothered by the anonymity?”
- In the night room: a novel by Peter Straub
Also by Maurice G. DantecBABYLON BABIESCOSMOS INCORPORATED
- Grand Junction by Maurice G. Dantec
Books by B.J. Daniels
- Secret Weapon Spouse by B. J. Daniels

Examples of buy in a sentence

I wanted to buy one of those croft houses out beyond his for my uncle.
- Death of an Outsider by M. C. Beaton
I'll buy you a beer."
- The heart of Devin MacKade by Nora Roberts
They want me to tell you to buy a calculator.”
- The Haunted Air by F. Paul Wilson
One day soon he'd buy a nice house like he and Mama had always wanted.
- Beyond belief by Roy Johansen
An impulse of pity made him think he should buy a stuffed animal.
- Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Black Friday Sale

Up to

50% off

Browse Offers
Ends Monday, November 30 at 11:59 PST