Verb Mistakes #8: Lose
A common writing error is the use of loose in a context that calls for the verb lose.
As a verb, loose means, “to set free; to release from restraint.” For example, “The Kaffirs loosed the dogs before seeing the elephants.”
Lose, on the other hand, means “to become deprived of,” “to miss from one’s possession.” For example, “They lose their keys at least once every day.”
I’m never surprised to find the loose/lose error in such contexts as fan fiction, social media, or readers’ comments on news sites. I am, however, disappointed when I find it in texts written by journalists, medical professionals, and others who boast university credentials or professional expertise.
Most of the errors I found online occurred with the idioms “to lose one’s way” and “to lose sight of, but it also appears in free constructions:
INCORRECT: Everyone would like to be happy. Sometimes we loose our way or forget how happiness feels.—Therapist advertising in Psychology Today directory, graduate of Rutgers University.
CORRECT : Everyone would like to be happy. Sometimes we lose our way or forget how happiness feels.
INCORRECT: And if we do loose our way, it is easy to ask ourselves, “Where are we going, what is our purpose?”—Graduate student essay, University of Michigan.
CORRECT : And if we do lose our way, it is easy to ask ourselves, “Where are we going, what is our purpose?”
INCORRECT: When this happened [blockage of blood vessels] the neutrophils seemed to loose their way.—Science Daily, report on study done at University of London.
CORRECT : When this happened [blockage of blood vessels] the neutrophils seemed to lose their way.
INCORRECT: Take responsibility for your learning, don’t loose sight of what you want to learn, resolve or get out of therapy, and don’t talk about material you know is irrelevant.—Clinical psychologist offering his services.
CORRECT : Take responsibility for your learning, don’t lose sight of what you want to learn, resolve or get out of therapy, and don’t talk about material you know is irrelevant.
INCORRECT: It’s easy to get caught up in project details and loose sight of the bigger picture.—Vanderbilt University.
CORRECT : It’s easy to get caught up in project details and lose sight of the bigger picture.
INCORRECT: When you loose your concentration, start the exercise again from the beginning.—Meditation Workshop.
CORRECT : When you lose your concentration, start the exercise again from the beginning.
INCORRECT: He said the audit showed Lincoln’s basic business had been loosing money for two years…—The Washington Post.
CORRECT : He said the audit showed Lincoln’s basic business had been losing money for two years
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