Skip to content

Lose / Loose–“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”  Mark Twain

Check this category every week for a new set of ceaselessly confused, misused or misspelled words to master. Break the cycle of language abuse!

Lose /Loose

This is a tough one. Writers get this wrong all the time. One o or two? Let’s decide once and for all.

To lose means to not win. The person who loses is the loser and will try to do better next time.

One o makes that s sound like a z, giving the word a harsh buzzing sound—kind of like the feeling you get when you are the losing loser who loses. Also, lose is a verb. It’s an action—something you do. Hopefully not very much.

One o and an s like a z—tight, sharp, harsh-sounding and not fun at all.

Loose means not tight. It’s an adjective, not a verb. So, instead of performing an action, it gives you more information about a person, place or thing. It tells you something about your shoe laces, your beach vacation schedule and the fit of that expensive new outfit after you finally took off those last five pounds.  

The two o’s soften the s into a more sibilant, soothing, satisfying s sound. They round off the sharp edges of the z sound in lose and create a word that lets you stretch out, put on your jammies and relax.

Lose = ARGH!

Loose = Aaahhhhh…

More o’s = less tension.

So let’s practice. Use whatever form of the correct word fits the sentence.

  1. The casino advertised __________slots but that didn’t keep me from __________ all my money.
  2. My crochet stitches were so tight that my work will make a better doormat than a blanket. Since I don’t need another doormat, I’ll have to work on making my stitches __________.
  3. I hate to __________!
  4. The __________team slunk off the field, preparing for a tirade from the coach.
  5. “Call me a __________again and I’ll __________a few of your teeth!”
  6. Those pants used to be__________, but now I can’t even zip them. I guess I’ll need to __________ five or ten or forty pounds.
  7. My new bracelet was a little__________, but I wore it anyway. I never thought I’d __________it—until I did.
  8. If you __________your map, you’ll __________you way.
  9. Hawaiians encourage visitors to __________ their worries and hang__________.
  10.  Don’t be that __________ __________who __________. Take a breath, __________your tie and get a handle on those o’s!

(Look for answers on the Uninterested / Disinterested page)


Answers for Compliment / Complement

Joanie was feeling low, so I decided to shower her with compliments every day until she felt better. I told her that her shoes were a nice complement to her outfit. I told her that her gloves were the perfect complement to her coat. I told her that her favorite TV show was a great complement to mine and that we should watch them both. I complimented her for days. And, though she is my best friend and I love her, I was running out of compliments that didn’t sound forced. And still, her mood was blue.

Days had gone by.

“Joanie,” I finally asked, “I’ve been trying to raise your spirits with compliments all week. It hasn’t helped. What more can I do”

“Oh, Beth,” she giggled. “It HAS worked—perfectly!”

“Huh?” I replied.

“I LOVE getting compliments from you. You give the best compliments of anyone I know. I was afraid if I let you know that I felt better, you’d stop.”

“Oh,” I said, miffed. “So you were lying to me. Now I feel bad. I thought we complemented each other better than that.”

“We do!” Joanie laughed.

“Well,” I said as I walked away, “then you know that I’ll be expecting a ton of  compliments from you from now on.”

She caught up with me and linked her arm into mine.

“Done,” she said. “Starting now.”

“I’m listening.”

“You have great taste in friends!”