Using Lose vs Loose

Instructor: David Boyles

David has a Master's in English literature. He has taught college English for 5+ years.

Though they look and sound similar, 'lose' and 'loose' have very different meanings and also do different jobs as they are different parts of speech. 'Lose' is a verb while 'loose' is an adjective. Read this lesson to learn more.

Loose Losers

Where are my keys? Why do I always lose them? Or do I loose them? And a pipe in the sink is loose and leaking. Or is it lose?

'Lose' and 'loose' are two words that are commonly mistaken for each other, and it is easy to see why. They are spelled similarly and also sound similar. But they are actually completely different words with little in common. Not only do they have different meanings, but they also do different things in a sentence.

Every word is put into a group known as a part of speech which describes its function in a sentence. 'Lose' is a verb, or action word, while 'loose' is an adjective, or descriptive word. Now let's take a deeper look at these two words with some examples.

I Always Lose!

Our first word, 'lose' (with only one 'o') is a verb that describes an action. Or actually it describes a couple different actions, as it has a few different meanings. The first means to be deprived of something or not have it any more:

  • John will lose a lot of blood if we don't get him to the emergency room soon.
  • I feel like I'm going to lose my sanity!

It can also mean the opposite of 'win,' specifically relating to sports or competition:

  • The baseball team is on pace to lose a record number of games this year.
  • I know I am going to lose at Srabble against Dan. He's the best player around.

And finally, going back to the example at the start of our lesson, it can mean to be unable to find something:

  • Why do I always lose my keys?
  • You would lose your head if it wasn't attached to your body!

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Loose lips sink ships in this World War II poster
Loose Lips

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