Mighty Red Pen

September 18, 2011

Lose vs. loose

Filed under: Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 3:32 pm
Tags: ,

This local establishment fell victim to the very common lose vs. loose confusion.

Okay, here’s the deal: If you fail to keep something, you lose it. If something is less tight, then it is now loose. So in this case, we did not lose power would have been correct.

Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage offers this easy way to remember the difference: “This confusion can easily be avoided if you pronounce the word intended aloud. If it has a voiced Z sound, then it’s “lose.” If it has a hissy S sound, then it’s “loose.”” And it’s also worth reading the extensive explanation from Language Log (which, as an aside, also includes an interesting commentary of the tendency to lump all language issues under the umbrella of “grammar”).

Copyblogger includes lose vs. loose in a list of seven common writing mistakes, and offers this helpful way of remembering:

“If your pants are too loose, you might lose your pants.”

And no one wants that, do they? So remember: keep your pants on.


By the way, MRP was recently nominated for the Grammar.net contest for Best Grammar Blog of 2011. Many great blogs that cover grammar and language were also nominated, so we’re in excellent company. Voting will begin September 26, so please vote!

The Best Grammar Blog of 2011 nomiee


  1. Congrats on the nomination!

    Comment by Laura — September 18, 2011 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

  2. Congrats on the nomination, I will be voting for you.

    Comment by Sue — October 10, 2011 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  3. This is an interesting one, because of course “loose” can also be a verb, albeit one that is rarely used today.

    Comment by johnesh — March 15, 2012 @ 4:26 am | Reply

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