lose and loose

For the record, I am writing this post because I love you, not because I want to poke fun at anyone and certainly not because I fancy myself some Grammar Queen or something. No, I do not delight in pointing out every misspelling or improperly-used word I see.

(Gabe may beg to differ. And I probably do correct people more than I realize, but  I do really try to let stuff go, because really? Who likes to be around a smarty-pants? NOT ME.)

HOWEVER, I’ve seen one particular mistake about 46 times in the past little while and felt the need to make a Public Service Announcement.

You might not believe me, but there’s actually an honest-to-goodness word in the English language spelled L-O-S-E, as in, “I hope we don’t LOSE the game,” said Olivia. I know some of you didn’t know that such a word existed, because when you want to talk about losing games, you spell it L-O-O-S-I-N-G.

In your defense, the word LOSE sure doesn’t look like it rhymes with CRUISE, but it does.

There IS a word spelled L-O-O-S-E, but it’s used to describe things like “Ava’s LOOSE tooth” or “Don’t tell Marla, but I think she has a few screws LOOSE.”

The whole LOOSE TOOTH thing is actually your key to remembering. LOOSE and TOOTH both have two O’s.

And I don’t know how to tell you to remember how to spell LOSE. Suggestions anyone?

And while we’re at it, does anyone have any other mnemonic devices to help us remember confusing grammar/spelling rules?

Happy Weekend!

p.s. If it makes you feel any better, I HATE the words further and farther, because even if I’m 98% sure I’m using the right one, I still pause in anguish before I let it leave my tongue.

32 thoughts on “lose and loose

  1. jaime

    The one that gets me:
    Dessert – after dinner treat
    Desert – arid, sandy terrain

    My tip…You want seconds of dessert and want to walk the desert once. So you want two “s” with dessert and only one with desert.

  2. Tiffani

    Oh how I loathe poor grammar! I know we can all make the occasional mistake but on a Facebook status or, heaven help me, on a church sign (or any public sign for that matter)–that’s the worst! I just want to pull in to the place of business and tell them to FIX.IT!

    We do Shurley Grammar for homeschool and it has great “jingles” that help us remember parts of speech, their jobs, etc..it’s awesome!

  3. Jennifer

    Oh, and if it wasn’t clear “what Janelle does” — it’s just give up and write. (My post didn’t make as much sense as I thought it did without that clarification!)

  4. Jennifer

    I think, after reading all these comments, that I’m going to do what Janelle does. 🙂 Who knows how many people I’ve infuriated with my grammar mistakes? Possibly hundreds!

  5. Lisa R-p

    It makes me a little crazy when on blogs I see “Viola” instead of “Voila”. It’s usually used this way — “Complete this final step and — viola — you are done”. I get a bit cranky.

  6. Colleen

    Okay…so I’m hopping that I wasnt the won that maid that mistake that you mentioned, because I wood feel sew sew sew bad!!!

    their and there, your and you’re, who and whom bug me all the time!
    loving you!

  7. Kelsie

    Ha! That bothers me, too! Lose vs. Loose. I’m afraid of how much I will correct my children someday. Lord, give me wisdom…

  8. Christine

    HA! Love that I misspelled, or at least mis-typed, “spelling” above. Hehehehe! And for “dessert” vs “desert” I learned it as “sand or sugar and spice?” Love these little tips!

  9. Christine

    Oh girl, we are cut from the same cloth! I wasn’t a pelling bee queen for nothin’!

    deanna made me laugh!! My boss and I spent 20 minutes yesterday parsing the difference between “affect” and “effect”. I love my job for so many reasons!

    But here’s my big bugaboo! The apostrophe “s” when pluralizing things!! AACCCKK!! Makes me nuts! And by people who should know better!! There’s a cereal at Trader Joe’s with the offending apostrophe right on the front of the box! The way I learned it as a kid was pretty clever, I think. Say I can’t decide whether or not to put the apostrophe in this sentence “So many book’s/books, so little time!” My teacher taught us to ask ourselves two questions…does the book own an apostrophe? How many? Meaning, are you trying to convey possession? Or are you trying to convey multiples of something? The question is a little goofy, but at least it made 3rd graders think about why the apostrophe was there. And then she made the point that you also use it anytime you combine words…just like with “didn’t” or “isn’t”, when you make “where is” “where’s”, use the apostrophe! And for heaven’s sake, just memorize the difference between it’s and its!

    Off to pour a bowl of Joe’s O’s and contemplate writing a letter! 😉

  10. deanna

    I too have been cursed with being a “natural speller.” I try my very best not to point out other people’s spelling errors, unless they are a repeat offender! 🙂
    But I do have one set of words that get me confused from time to time. I know they’ve been mentioned a few times on here already, but they are EFFECT and AFFECT.

  11. Rebecca

    Your vs. You’re. Enough said.

    My worst pet peeve–a restaurant that decides to make their menus from scratch instead of hiring a professional. Grammatical and spacing errors usually abound in those menus. Truly, it makes me never want to eat there again.

    Yeah, sometimes I have it bad with this whole grammar thing.

    And no, I’m not perfect. I can make errors just like everyone else. I just tend to notice someone else’s errors more than they do!

  12. Rachelle

    There’s the classic desert and dessert; desert being a hot, sandy location and dessert being…well you know. Anyway remember dessert, because of the “s’s” in “Strawberry Shortcake”. I really loath making grammatical mistakes-but it happens a lot on fb and blog comments, when I’m trying to type, or think, in a hurry; Indeed, I made a spelling error yesterday on this very blog…oh pride, you shame me.

  13. Layne

    The ones that always bother me (and I DO try to be gracious and not point it out all the time) are thy’re/there/their, your/you’re, and to/too/two. One I used to mess up all the time was its/it’s…its is possessive, so shouldn’t I be using an apostrophe? But I decided that contractions took preference over possession, so “it is” gets the apostrophe.

    How about dessert/desert? Supper/super? My mom said that because we’d like a second helping of dessert, it gets the extra “s”….I figure that’s why “supper” gets two “p”s. Same with dinner and diner.

  14. Kara D.

    oooh me! me! pick Me!

    “embarass” can be a hard word to spell. just remember “One R and 2 S’s. After all, wouldn’t you be embarassed if you had 2 s’s?”

  15. whimzie

    The principal is your pal. (So you won’t confuse it with “principle.”)

    I expand contractions like the others mentioned to make sure I’m using the right “they’re” or “you’re.”

    For affect/effect, I try to remember that affect starts with an “A” which stands for “action.” It’s the verb from of the word. The other one is the noun.

    stationary/stationery Write and stationery both have “e”s. So you write notes on stationery.

    I used to know a bunch of these but right now my 40-year-old mind is completely blank.

  16. Ellen

    I am a technical writer, so am constantly correctly spelling and grammar mistakes at work. It’s hard to not do it at home or with friends. Glad I’m not the only one that goes crazy when I see these types of mistakes!

  17. Carissa@Exciting Times

    I guess I’m kind of a jerk, because I sort of DO enjoy finding mistakes like these. Not necessarily calling them out, but just recognizing mistakes and silently congratulating myself on my own brilliance.

    I’m a sinner. I know.

    The word trap that gives me cause to pause is affect vs. effect. Gets me every time. Any tips for that one?

  18. anonymous

    Like Krysten, it helps me to remember that they’re, there, and their all begin with the word “the.” Expanding the contraction “they’re” into “they are” and testing it in a sentence is a good way to check if “they’re” is being used properly. I remember “their” (possessive) by thinking that there is an “I” in it, as in “I own…..” (even though if they’re the owners then the possessed item is theirs and not mine. Don’t get caught up in those details, just remember I for possessive.) Between those two ways of remembering they’re and their the process of elimination leaves there as the only alternative if the other two don’t fit. However, it may also help to think about where and there both referring to a place or point and both sharing that last four letters. Where? There.

  19. Stephanie your sister

    Did Jess (above) say “loose my mind” on purpose? 🙂

    I agree with the misplaced apostrophes! I can see how it would be confusing sometimes though.

  20. Stephanie your sister

    With “your” and “you’re” the key is using “you are” in the sentence to see if it makes sense, since that’s the breakdown of “you’re.” So if you want to say to someone, “you are cute” you’d say “you’re cute.” But if you want to talk about someone’s cute outfit, you wouldn’t say “you are outfit is cute,” so that means it’s “your outfit is cute.”

    You could do the same thing with “they’re,” but that only takes one of them out of the equation. I don’t have any brilliant way of helping people distinguish between their and there.

    I like Keli Gwyn’s way of remembering “lose.” 🙂

  21. jess

    (i meant the general “you” not YOU “YOU” cause i don’t think “You”‘ve talked about the misplaced apostrophe yet.)

  22. jess

    misspelled words don’t make me loose my mind much; however, when you talk about the misplaced apostrophe, i go a little bonker’s.

    and…uh….is there a deadline to those questions?? this week has been unlike any other…FULL and BUSY.

  23. Krysten

    I had a learning disability in school so spelling was always an issue for me. I spelled together as to-get-her and remembered how to spell there, their, and they’re by knowing that all of them started with “the.”

  24. ItsyBitsyTeenyWeenyYellowPolkaDot...

    Oooh…we are much too alike! This post actually had me laughing out loud…mainly because I, too, cringe every time that word is misspelled!!! But by far, the most misused/misspelled word group that sends shivers down my spine every time it is incorrectly used is: there, their and they’re! Unfortunately, I have no good advice (like all of your cute little examples) on how to correctly remember them! I’ll have to think about it! (You know, because I have nothing better to do than nit-pick how others are so grammatically incorrect – ha!! 🙂 Boy, I better spell-check this!!!!!

  25. Kathy R

    I have words like that where I will say or type them verrry slowly to try and make sure I’m saying or spelling them write…..
    haha, j/kidding “right” spelling them “right!”..correctly. There, that’s better 🙂

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