The question of whether to use loose or lose is common because we often confuse these words. But although they are spelled almost identically, they have very different meanings. In this post, we’ll show you whether to use loose or lose in your writing and demonstrate examples of each. Keep reading to learn more!
When to Use Loose
Loose is an adjective meaning “not tight or not firmly fixed in place.”Synonyms of loose include baggy, slack, and relaxed; antonyms include secure, restricted, and fastened. Here are some examples of loose in a sentence:
The dog got loose in the park and ran away.
The screws on that chair are too loose.
Tighten the straps on your backpack so they don’t come loose on your hike.
You can also use loose to describe something that is not strict or rigid:
The judge claimed that was a loose interpretation of the law.
In some cases, loose can function as a verb meaning “to release something or set it free.” For example:
He loosed the dogs in the yard.
However, the above usage is very rare. Synonyms, such as released, are much more common in this context.
When to Use Lose
Lose is a verb with several meanings. It can mean “to be deprived of or no longer have something”:
When I’m anxious, I lose my appetite.
If I’m tired, I lose my motivation to study.
I always lose cell phone service on this road.
Lose can also mean “to misplace”:
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Keep your phone in your pocket so you don’t lose it.
The airline might lose my luggage again.
In a competitive context, lose is the opposite of win and means “to be defeated,” such as in a game or an election:
I hope my team doesn’t lose in the finals.
The candidate was worried that they might lose the upcoming election if they didn’t campaign hard enough.
Spelling Tips for Loose and Lose
Lose is always a verb and is spelled with just one o. Loose is spelled with two o’s and is almost always an adjective (it’s a verb when it means “to release”). Be sure to pay close attention to the context of the sentence to decide which word to use:
She doesn’t want to loose the game.
She doesn’t want to lose the game.
Keep an eye on your purse so you don’t loose it.
Keep an eye on your purse so you don’t lose it.
I like to wear lose pants in the hot weather.
I like to wear loose pants in the hot weather.
Try this trick to remember whether to use loose or lose: if loose gets loose and loses an o, then it becomes lose!
In summary, lose (one o) relates to no longer having something, misplacing something, or experiencing a defeat, and loose (two o’s) describes something not tightly secured or (rarely) indicates the act of releasing something or setting it free.
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