Dual vs. Duel

What is the difference?

Dual and duel are examples of homophones, meaning that they are said the same way, but have different definitions. There are lots of homophones in English and it can be hard to keep them all in order when you are learning, but it is very important that you don't mix these two up.

One of them means that there are two of something, while the other means a fight! So you definitely wouldn't want to use one when you mean to use the other.

Once you learn the definitions, you should have no problem getting it right.

Dual vs. Duel

Let's take a look at some examples in order to help you understand each word better.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses


The first word, dual, can be either an adjective or a noun.

As an adjective, dual means that there are two of something, and usually two parts of the same thing.

dual means that there are two of something

Dual can also mean two things that belong to the same thing or person. A person who is a citizen of two different countries, for example, has dual citizenship.

dual citizenship


  1. James put new dual speakers in his car that sound really good!
    (James put two matching speakers in his car and they sound really good!)

    dual speakers
  2. The word "like" has dual meanings in English.
    (The word "like" has two different meanings in English.)

    dual meanings
  3. He has dual personalities, sometimes he is very mean and sometimes he is kind.
    (He has two different personalities, one that is mean and one that is kind.)

    dual personalities
  4. The movie has dual show times today, so we can go now or later.
    (The movie plays at two different times today.)

    dual show times
  5. My reasons for staying home today are dual.
    (I have two reasons for staying home today.)

    dual reasons


Duel can be both a noun and a verb, but as either one it refers to a kind of fight.


As a noun, a duel is a fight or competition, usually that two people agree to have, for the purpose of settling an argument. In the past, people in a duel would use weapons to kill each other.

duel is a fight or competition

but in modern times, it is not as serious and can be used in a more casual way. Two people arguing over the last piece of cake could agree to a duel, and play a friendly game of basketball to decide who gets it, for example.


When duel is a verb, it means "to fight" or to participate in a duel with someone else in order to settle an argument. Those same people arguing over the cake will duel each other to see who gets to eat it.



  1. The knight challenges the man who insulted him to a duel, so that he may defend his honor.
    (The knight challenges the man who insulted him to a fight to the death.)
  2. Susan sees two children dueling with pretend swords in the park on her way home.
    (Susan sees two children having a friendly competition with fake swords.)

    two children having a friendly competition with fake swords
  3. I tell Joe that I will duel him to see who gets to drive to the movie theater.
    (I, jokingly, tell Joe that I will fight him to see who gets to drive to the movie theater.)

    a couple on a bike
  4. The two countries duel for the right to drill for oil on their border.
    (The two countries fight for the right to drill for oil.)

    drill for oil
  5. They choose not to duel with swords, but with words.
    (They choose to settle an argument by talking instead of fighting.)

    They choose not to duel with swords, but with words.

More Tips

So now you know that dual mean two parts of something and duel means a fight, but how can you remember which is which?

Just remember that dual is spelled with an "a," like "a lot," because if something is dual, then it means that there is more than one, because dual means two, and not a fight, like duel.

As long as you remember that little trick, you should have no problem remembering when to use dual or duel!

More Tips

A Story to Practice Dual vs. Duel

Miles has dual jobs. During the day, he is an accountant. He works in a small office with dual floors, and he works on the top floor at a desk in the corner. After he is done at his first job, Miles changes his clothes in secret. He puts on a dual set of gloves and a cape and mask, and he becomes a superhero.

Miles runs around town and fights crime all night long. He lives a dual life, and no one knows about his second job. When Miles finds a criminal, he challenges them to a duel using their dual fists. The criminal and Miles sometimes duel for hours before Miles wins, but he always wins. He then takes the criminals to jail where some will serve dual life sentences for their crimes.

Miles likes being a superhero much more than being an accountant. Dueling the forces of evil every night makes him feel good about himself.

When Miles is not working, he likes to travel to England where he was born. Miles has dual citizenship because his dad is from England, but his mom is from the United States.

a superhero


Answer the following 10 questions and then check your answers. Each question is worth 10 points.

Part 1:

  1. Which of the following is a correct definition of dual?
    1. Three or more of something
    2. Only one of something
    3. Two of something
    4. To punch someone

  2. Which of the following is a correct definition of duel?
    1. To fight
    2. To hide
    3. Three things that are the same
    4. To attack

  3. Which of the following sentences is written correctly?
    1. The airplane has duel controls, for the pilot and copilot.
    2. There are dual roads that you can take to get to my house.
    3. I will dual you for your hat.
    4. A dual is not a good way to settle an argument.

  4. Which of the following sentences is written incorrectly?
    1. The duel would only end when one person died.
    2. Steven and Roy are dual team captains this year.
    3. I have dual concerns about my new neighbors.
    4. I dualed a tiger last week with my bare hands.

Part 2:

  1. I will ___________ the other man because he insults my family.
    1. dual
    2. dueled
    3. dueling
    4. duel
  2. ___________ was common among upper class people in the Middle Ages.
    1. Duel
    2. Dueling
    3. Dual
    4. Duels
  3. He thinks that human beings have a ___________ nature, one that is both good and evil.
    1. duels
    2. dual
    3. dual
    4. dueling
  4. Sometimes cows on Alan's farm are born with ___________ tails, but one is usually smaller.
    1. dueled
    2. duel
    3. dual
    4. duels
  5. I ___________ my friend Ann in a card game last week, but she beat me.
    1. dueled
    2. dual
    3. dueling
    4. duels
  6. My computer serves a ___________ purpose, as I use it both for work and to watch television.
    1. duels
    2. duel
    3. deuled
    4. dual

Answer Key

Part 1: 1. C | 2. A | 3. B | 4. D

Part 2: 1. D | 2. B | 3. B | 4. C | 5. A | 6. D

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