In English there are many words that look similar but have different meanings. Brought and bought for example, or lose and loose.

A single letter marks the difference in meaning in each of these four words. Let’s look at lose and loose, as I’ve recently seen a lot of examples of misuse of these words. In particular people seem to write loose when they really mean lose.

Loose is an adjective, and means not tight or constricted; free. Examples include “my shoes feel really loose today” and “the dog got loose”. When someone tells you to “loosen up”, they mean for you to relax, chill out.

Lose, however, means to be without something through theft, accident, etc. Examples include “I lost my wallet” and “I lost my job”. When someone tells you to “get lost”, they mean for you to go away!

There’s an easy way to remember the difference – just think that “lose has lost the extra o”!