Grammar 101: Loose vs. Lose

by IELTS Australasia — February 21st, 2018

Loose and lose: These two words cause a lot of confusion and it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference between the two.

It’s very common for someone to use a word incorrectly as there are many words that sound similar but mean very different things. To avoid embarrassing blunders (even for native English speakers), we’ve come up with a list of “confusing” words and an explanation of how to correctly use them. This time, we’ll tackle loose vs lose.

  • Difference loose and lose
  • Synonyms of loose and lose
  • Use loose and lose in a sentence

Click each topic to learn more about the differences between loose and lose.

Loose vs. Lose: the difference
Loose

Is an adjective: A word that describes a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality.

Lose

A verb: A word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience.

Loose vs. Lose: the definitions
Loose
  • If it’s not firmly held or fastened in place.
  • Not fitting closely to the body (of clothes).
  • When something is not tightly controlled, or not exact.
  • Having low morals, sexually free.
  • To speak or express emotions very freely, especially in an uncontrolled way.
  • Not solid (watery)
Lose
  • No longer have something because you do not know where it is.
  • Have something or someone taken away from you.
  • Stop feeling something.
  • Have less of something that you had before.
  • Get rid of something.
  • Fail to succeed in a game, competition.
Loose vs. Lose: the synonyms
Loose

Could also mean (synonyms): Baggy, easy, sloppy, free, hanging, slack, unhooked, detached, disconnected, free

Lose

Synonyms for ‘lose’ are: Drop, fail, forget, give up, suffer, waste, rob, miss, deplete, consume.

Loose vs. Lose: in a sentence
Loose
  • A floorboard has come loose in the dining room.
  • You’re not connected to the internet because there’s a loose connection in the plug.
  • After the meeting, I was shocked to find a few loose sheets of paper with confidential information lying around in the room.
  • Although the shoe was in my size, it was very loose.
  • The movie is a loose adaptation of the short story written by Danny.
Lose
  • Please lose the jacket as it makes you look so much older.
  • My doctor said my health will improve if I lose weight.
  • I lose two hours every morning stuck in traffic.
  • I think it’s best to end our conversation before I lose my temper.
  • We will have to lose half of our employees if this deal doesn’t go through.

Reference: Cambridge Dictionary

Want to learn more about commonly confused words?

In written English, it is important to know the correct spelling of a word you want to use. For example, you don’t want to write “weak” when you mean “week” even though they sound the same. In spoken English, spelling is less important, but pronunciation is. Think about the word “lead” which can be pronounced as “led” or “leed.” Because these words cause a lot of confusion, it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference: homophones vs homographs vs homonyms. We’ve also explained 50 most commonly mispronounced words.

People often use elude when they mean allude, or write allude when they should really write elude. There are other commonly confused words too: Do you know the difference between belief or believe? That is the question of another article where we explain the difference between these two commonly misused words. Read it here.

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