Word Choice: Sauce vs. Source
  • 2-minute read
  • 30th May 2021

Word Choice: Sauce vs. Source

‘Sauce’ and ‘source’ may sound similar when spoken, but these terms are very different in practice. And this makes it important not to mix them up in your writing. In this post, then, we’ll take a look at how to use ‘sauce’ and ‘source’ correctly.

Sauce (Condiment for Food)

As a noun, ‘sauce’ typically refers to a thickened liquid served with food to add flavour, moisture, and visual appeal to a dish:

Marinara is a classic Italian tomato-based sauce.

Would you like more sauce on your pasta?

Some also use it as a verb meaning ‘add sauce to something’:

The salmon was well sauced.

In both cases, though, ‘sauce’ is spelled with an ‘a’.

A selection of sauces in small paper cups.
A selection of sauces.
(Photo: Marco Verch, CC 2.0)

Source (Point of Origin)

The noun ‘source’ refers to a point of origin for something:

The source of the Blue Nile lies in the Ethiopian Highlands.

We need to find the source of the problem.

It can also refer to someone or something that supplies information:

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

We have a source within the president’s office.

The journalist cited an old diary as their source.

As a verb, meanwhile, ‘source’ means ‘obtain something from a specific source’:

Our coffee beans are sourced from Uganda and Guatemala.

They asked me to source a wedding dresses for the photoshoot.

As shown above, all these uses are spelled with an ‘o’. Beware, though! In some internet circles, people jokingly misspell ‘source’ as ‘sauce’. This is okay for a meme as long as your meaning is clear, but it would be an error in most writing.

Summary: Sauce or Source?

While these words may sound the same, they differ in meaning:

  • Sauce is typically a noun that refers to a liquid added to food for extra flavour and moisture. More rarely, it can be a verb meaning ‘add sauce to something’.
  • As a noun, source refers to the origin of something. As a verb, meanwhile it means ‘obtain something from a particular source’.

The key to spelling these words correctly is that ‘source’ with an ‘o’ can refer to an ‘origin’ or to ‘obtaining’ something, both of which start with an ‘o’.

If you’d like to be extra sure your writing is error free and easy to read, though, you can always get it proofread by our expert editors.

Comments (0)

Get help from a language expert.

Try our proofreading services for free.

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.