Dual versus Duel

Since dual and duel are homophones, they are often confused, but they are actually very different words and represent entirely different parts of speech.

dual versus duel

Dual is an adjective that describes double or two of something.

  • The dual engines on the car make it go faster.

Duel, on the other hand, can be used as a noun verb, but most commonly as a noun to describe a type of combat or fight between two people.

  • The duel was scheduled for high noon.

When to Use Dual in a Sentence

Dual meaning: Dual is used as an adjective to describe two of something. It can be used to describe two of something physical, but it can also be used to describe a two-sided personality or characteristic of someone or something.

Example: “When we talk about the dual nature of electric vehicles as energy and mobility assets this is really what we’re talking about.” Source: Forbes

Example: The dual pipes were used for drinking water and sewage at the facility.

As you can see from the above examples, the first one is used to describe a characteristic of something, while the second is used to describe two of something in a physical sense.

Phrases That Use Dual

One of the most commonly used phrases that includes dual relates to citizenship.

  • “Jack is a dual citizen of both the United States and Canada.”

When to Use Duel in a Sentence

Duel meaning: Duel is derived from the French word duel, which was taken from the Latin word duellum, meaning man-to-man combat.

As a noun, duel has the same meaning today.

Example: “The showdown lived up to its billing as a duel between two high-powered offenses and star quarterbacks with President Donald Trump attending.” [Noun] Source: New York Post

Here we see duel being used to describe such a man-to-man combat, or in this example’s case, a team-to-team combat.

When used as a verb, duel describes the actual act of taking part in a duel.

Example: At high noon we will duel to the death.

Example: “Johnson and Corbyn duel in first televised debate of UK election.” [Verb] Source: Al Jazeera

Phrases That Use Duel

The participle form of the verb duel is part of the title of the song “Dueling Banjos.” This song featured in the 1972 film Deliverance. Dueling piano bars are also a popular attractions.

Dual or Duel – Keeping Them Straight

It is important to remember that dual is an adjective, while duel can be used as a noun or verb, so knowing the context will certainly help.

You can also use a mnemonic trick to help keep these tricky words apart. Remember that dual often relates to a person’s citizenship status and that in America you are allowed to have dual citizenship with some countries. America begins with the letter “A,” which is in dual the adjective, but not in duel.

Test Your Knowledge

Use either dual or duel correctly in each sentence.

  1. The _______ purpose of the study was to educate the public and to hopefully find an answer to the problem.
  2. The two gunslingers agree to a gun __________ on main street.
  3. The brave samurai said he would _______ the oppressive feudal lord to the death.
  4. He just didn’t know how the _________ program was supposed to help.

See the answers below.

Recap: When to use Dual or Duel

These two words may sound alike, but they represent different parts of speech and have different meanings. With that said, it is important to remember that duel does have origins with dual as it means two people or things battling each other.

  • Dual is an adjective that refers to two of something.
  • Duel is a noun that relates to combat or a conflict between two people or things.
  • Duel is also a verb that describes the act of combat or conflict between two people or things.


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