Lose vs. Loose vs. Loosen

Lose vs. Loose vs. Loosen

Lose, loose, and loosen are words that can trip up even the most practiced grammarian. Loose and loosen are related and have much different meanings than lose, but these words are spelled incorrectly quite often-even if the writer understands the difference between them.

Lose functions as a verb, and it is pronounced "lo͞oz." It means not able to find, not winning, or failing to have.

1. I always seem to lose my keys when I am at work.

2. I really hope that we don't lose the championship game today.

3. I think that if one more bad thing happens today, I might lose my mind!

Loose functions as an adjective, and it is pronounced "lo͞os." It means not tight, not fitted; able to be moved.

1. The door appeared to be shut, but the latch was loose, so the wind blew it open.

2. Make sure that the straps on the car seat are not loose because that is not safe for the baby.

3. The top on the jar was loose, so the little girl was able to open it.

Loosen, related to loose, functions as a verb and it means to make loose-to make not tight, not fitted.

1. Can you help me loosen the laces on my shoes because they are hurting my feet.

2. We cannot take apart the toy until someone loosens the screws that are holding it together.

3. The wind seems to have loosened the branch on that tree, and it is now swinging freely.

Once you understand the difference in pronunciation and spelling between lose and loose, their meanings are easily distinguished. This is one of those times when it might just be easiest to memorize which one has one "o" and which one has two.

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