Module 15, Troublesome Words 1, Lesson 18:

Lose vs. Loose


The word lose, with one o, is a verb that means you have lost something that belongs to you. It can also mean to reduce or lessen.

My little sister always loses her toys.
Vitamins lose their potency when they are left out on the table.

Spelling Hint 1: When you say the word lose aloud, you pronounce the s like a z.

Spelling Hint 2: Think about the words lose and lost. Both words have the same meaning (when you lose something, it's lost), and both are spelled with only one o.

The word loose, with two o's, means that something is not tight, or that it's coming apart.

He loosened the reins on his horse.
My shoelaces always come loose during gym class.

Spelling Hint 1: Unlike lose, the word loose is pronounced the way it looks, with the s making a regular s sound.

Spelling Hint 2: Remember the phrase loose as a goose. Both loose and goose are spelled with two o's.

More Helpful Hints

Note that these two words can fulfill different grammatical roles. The verb lose can be turned into a noun by adding a different ending (you'll see which one as you complete the exercise below, but we don't want to give away any answers here!). The word loose can be used as a verb, an adjective, or even an adverb, depending on the ending you choose.

The words lose and loose are used in many idiomatic expressions (that's a fancy term for slang). This basically means that their conventional definitions can be stretched a bit, so you may have to think outside the box for a few of the questions below.

Practice What You've Learned

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Choose the word that correctly completes each sentence. (Note that a few of the incorrect answers are not real forms of either word.)
Who do you think will (lose) (loose) the election?
This movie is (losely) (loosely) based on a novel by my favorite author.
Many men have to (losen) (loosen) their belts after Thanksgiving dinner.
I always (lose) (loose) my stomach on roller coasters.
It's not nice to call someone a (loser) (looser).
These pants feel a lot (loser) (looser) than they did last month.
If you get too many speeding tickets you could (lose) (loose) your license.
One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to (lose) (loose) weight.
My dog got (lose) (loose) from her leash and chased after a squirrel.
Is your tooth (lose) (loose)?