Blunder Boards – Clues to choose, loose or lose?

The largely prevalent confusion between lose and loose is on full display here. This is a confusion I come amongst my students for the IELTS course too.
The word lost is connected to the word lose. I lost my way, I lost my purse, I lost the race, I don’t want to lose in the competition, Am I a loser? The one who loses is a loser. Lost is the past tense of lose. Loss is a noun, lose is a verb and they are related.

The word loose is an adjective. An adjective by definition is used to describe a noun. Loose is a quality, the opposite of tight. The pyjamas were loose, the nut was loose, The rope was loose, the ring was loose and it slipped off her fingers, loose joints etc. To use the verb form of the word we use loosen. Loosen the knot, loosen the belt if it is hurting etc. Loose is also used to convey the meaning of relaxed or lax as in, loose rules, loose morals, loose laws, loose parallel etc.

A mnemonic may help to remember the difference: She lost her ring because it was loose.
The board should have read: Don’t wait to lose weight. Of course, the second mistake on the board is the missing apostrophe in the first word.

Afterthought: The word loose is also used in Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu. If you refer to someone as ‘loose’ you are saying the person is not normal, a bit mad etc. Funny isn’t it? We can say someone is loose because he lost it!
Back to Blunder Boards main page