It's Thursday again, and time for another little lesson from the English teacher.
A reader asked to address the use of the words lose and loose. Good question!
First, the definitions.
Lose is a verb meaning to misplace or to come to be without something.
- Did you lose your cell phone?
- I think you're going to lose a tooth.
- It's sad to hear about a child's losing his mother.
Loose is almost always used as an adjective meaning free, not restrained, not fitting tightly.
- I have lots of loose change in my purse
- You have a loose tooth!
- Those pants are really loose on you.
I think that most writing mistakes with these words come about because of the way the words are pronounced. Lose is one of those English words that breaks all kinds of pronunciation rules. Lose looks as if it should rhyme with nose or hose, doesn't it? It doesn't seem possible that the sound of "oo" could be present in a word that has one "o" and a silent "e." So writers often throw in another "o." That's understandable. But words that have "oo" plus an "se" are pronounced with a hard "s" sound, not a "z" sound, such as moose, goose, noose, and caboose.
Perhaps the best way to remember to use the word lose is to connect it with two words that are almost never misspelled: loser and lost. I'll bet you've never read about the TV show The Biggest Looser, do you? Nope. Everyone seems to know that the word is loser. And no one ever writes of being hopelessly loost; lost is a word over which no one struggles. So if you find it difficult to remember that the verb you want is lose rather than loose, just remember that you don't want to be a loser. The right word is just the root of the word loser: lose. Or remember this: You'd be lost without the right word. Lose is the root of lost.
So here's a little quiz for you. Fill in the blanks with lose or loose:
- I need to _______ 10 pounds.
- These jeans are so tight, and they're supposed to be really _______ on me!
- Let go of me! Turn me _______.
- I'm afraid I'll _______ my way in the dark.
If you answered 1. lose; 2. loose; 3. loose; and 4. lose; you've got it!
Please let me know if you have any questions about English grammar or if there's a particular point you'd like for me to address in one of these little lessons. I want these to be a blessing to you!