Using lose vs loose is one of the most common writing errors. You may not have noticed, but there’s a subtle difference between the way we use lose and loose in English grammar. Some people mistakenly believe that these two words mean the same thing, but if you use them interchangeably, you could end up sounding less educated than you are, or worse, confusing the reader and leaving them to wonder which word you actually intended to use. Fortunately, knowing how to use lose and loose properly doesn’t take much effort once you know how they differ from each other.
To lose something means to no longer have it. As in these examples:
- I don’t want to lose my phone.
- She loses her job every year.
Loose, on the other hand, means not tight; able to move freely. As in these examples:
- The string became loose and fell off the kite.
- Shirts in the dryer become loose after the cycle ends.
For further understanding, see the examples below.
Lose Vs Loose
The difference between ‘lose and loose’:
Lose (with a single o) is a verb (past: lost; past participle: lost). When you use lose in a sentence, it means to misplace, to fail to keep or preserve something. To further help you understand the use of lose, read these sentences:
- I misplaced my keys again! Let’s hope I don’t lose them for good.
- Keep your wallet safe, and make sure you don’t lose it.
- Sara always loses her temper.
You can also lose your way when traveling, which means getting so confused that you do not know where you are anymore. If someone loses their temper, it means they become very angry and perhaps even violent.
Quick Tip For Easy Identification
In most cases, you would use lose for something you don’t have anymore and use loose for something that is not tightly bound or fastened.
- I just can’t seem to lose those extra pounds.
- A pair of shoes has a loose lace if it’s not tight enough to stay put.
- I don’t want you to lose your car keys again.
- Your wallet is so full that it’s beginning to lose shape.
- Even though you’ve tried hard, you still can’t lose those extra pounds!
- I’ll make sure I lose him by driving off in a different direction.
- Let’s just wait and see if we lose any mail before contacting anyone.
- Her hair began to lose its luster as she got older.
- We should loosen our grip on power.
- The loose soil made it difficult to keep my footing.
- If your clothes get loose, it means they no longer fit properly or are falling off.
- This door handle is now loose.
- Emma looks beautiful when she lets her golden locks loose.
Lose Vs Loose Quiz
To test your learning about using lose vs loose correctly, check out this FREE practice quiz.
Books To Learn Grammar
- The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomo
- English Grammar in Use Book with Answers: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Intermediate Learners of English by Raymond Murphy
- Essential Grammar in Use with Answers: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Elementary Learners of English by Raymond Murphy
- Advanced Grammar in Use with Answers: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Advanced Learners of English by Martin Hewings