Loss vs. Lose
Loss is a noun which refers to “the act of losing someone or something” or “something that is lost.”
- The company suffered a significant financial loss last quarter.
- My wife’s engagement ring was the greatest loss from the robbery.
Lose, on the other hand, is a verb that means “to no longer have something,” “to misplace something,” or “to be defeated in a competition or game.”
- Did you lose your keys? I think I saw them on the counter.
Is It “Loss” or “Lose”?
Understanding the difference between loss and lose is essential to communicating clearly and avoiding confusion. Below, we’re going to explore the meanings and applications of these two words in detail so that you’ll never use them incorrectly.
What Does “Loss” Mean?
Loss can only function as a noun. It has a handful of definitions but is generally used to refer to “the act of being unable to keep or maintain someone or something,” or “someone, something, or an amount that is lost.” Put differently, if at one point you had something but no longer do, you experienced a loss.
The loss of all the arcade tickets made my baby cousin cry uncontrollably.
The team took a huge loss when their star player transferred to another school.
As a nutritionist, her role is to keep people safe and healthy during their weight loss journey.
Loss is also often used as a euphemism for death.
Timmy was mourning the loss of his grandfather.
Timmy was mourning the death of his grandfather.
Sometimes, knowing the antonyms (words with opposite meanings) of a word can help you understand its meaning. Some antonyms of loss are the nouns gain and win.
What Does “Lose” Mean?
The word lose is always a verb, specifically an action verb. Lose also has several different uses, but generally means “to be unable to find someone or something” or “to have somebody or something taken away from you.”
We are going to lose our seats at the performance if we don’t arrive on time.
I always lose my umbrella on the day I need it the most.
Many people will lose their money if the banking system collapses.
Lose can also mean “fail to win.”
Unfortunately, I think my favorite soccer team is going to lose the championship game.
Keep in mind that lose is part of many idiomatic phrases. For example, the saying lose your mind does not mean someone has literally misplaced their mind. Instead, the expression means “to become mentally ill or extremely foolish” or “to act in a strange or silly way.”
I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t get tickets to Beyoncé’s concert.
It’s important to note that because lose is a verb, it has different forms.
- Base: (To) lose
- Past tense: Lost
- Past participle: Lost
- Present participle: Losing
- Third-person singular: Loses
If you examine the different forms of lose, you might see why there’s confusion between lose and loss in the first place. The past tense and past participle, lost, sound similar to loss when pronounced out loud.
I lost my favorite sweater.
I can’t find my sweater, so I’m going to consider it a loss.
Similarly, there’s a lot of confusion between the third-person singular form of lose (loses) and the plural form of loss (losses).
She constantly loses important documents.
There are many losses she has to account for, including the documents we can’t find.
How To Use “Loss” and “Lose” Correctly
The correct use of these two words requires you to remember that loss is always a noun and lose is always a verb.
Here are a few more examples of correct usage:
Quincy always loses his phone when we go out. (Verb)
Quincy can’t find his phone, so he’s considering it a loss. (Noun)
Losing his dog greatly affected him. (Verb)
The loss of his dog greatly affected him. (Noun)
If we lose this game, I’m going to be upset. (Verb)
The loss of this game will upset me. (Noun)
Keep in mind that both words can be used for physical and nonphysical things. For instance, you can experience a loss of love, or the loss of your sense of smell during an illness. Similarly, you can lose your wallet, or you can lose track of time.
In any case, LanguageTool—an intelligent multilingual writing assistant—can ensure you use the words loss and lose correctly, whether you’re typing a school essay, an email for work, or even just a simple text message.
Go ahead and try it; there’s nothing to lose!