A lose-loose situation

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lose: the opposite of win; to no longer have something
loose: the opposite of tight


Lose and loose are spelling errors that can cause a lot of trouble. If you confuse one word for the other, spell check won’t catch it, since the spelling is correct, but the word choice is not. With these words, it’s best just to memorize which word to use when.

If you are one of the people who gets stuck on these words, there’s a quick test that can help you decide which word to type. Lose and loose sound differently. Try saying them out loud. You’ll notice that the s in lose makes more of a z sound. Meanwhile, the s in loose makes a regular s sound. So when you’re typing your sentence, stop when you get to lose or loose and say the word out loud. If you say it with a z sound, type lose. If you say it with an s sound, type loose.

It still wouldn’t hurt to run though some examples.


After he tripped, the kitten worried he would lose the race.

Some say if the kitten continues to eat cookies, he will lose his great figure.

In the first example, lose means the opposite of win. In the second example, lose means to no longer have something.


After switching to a healthy diet, the kitten’s pants became loose on him.

Martin asked his wife to tighten the bolt, because it was loose.

In both of these examples, loose means the opposite of tight.

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Fill in the blank with either lose or loose.

1. “Frank, I’m concerned that my spacesuit is too _______ on me,” Koko said.

2. “Shut your yap hole, Koko. I don’t want to ______ time,” Frank said.

3. “What if I ______ the wrench and it floats away into outer space because my gloves are too big and I can’t hold onto it very well?” Koko asked.

4. “Why do you even need the wrench, Koko? There is nothing _______ on the space ship. Everything is tightly secured,” Frank said.

5. “Frank, let’s be serious here. If our space ship falls apart while we are in outer space, we will _____ the competition, and we will die,” Koko said.

Answers: 1. loose 2. lose 3. lose 4. loose 5. lose

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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