Lose and Loose
Plenty of people mix up these two
words. They look like LOSERS - people who are carelessly LOOSE with the old
To "lose" something is to come to be
without it any more.
Something that is "loose" is
something that is not fastened or attached.
It's probable that people simply
don't realize these are two separate words - one with one "o" and one with two
- because of the way we've been taught to read for the past generation or two.
Kids are taught to quickly "scan" text to try to get the gist of it - the
"whole language" approach to holistic reading. They aren't taught to read words
based on matching the symbols they see with the sounds the letters make, all at
lightning speed within their brains, of course.
But without that training in place -
called "systematic, intensive, explicit phonics" -- they don't get the benefit
of knowing that because it only has one "o," the sound that "lose" makes has a
/ z / on the end, which is distinctly different than the ending sound of "loose,"
with its two "o's," which ends with the sound of / s /.
The problem with whole language
readers is that, in their haste, many children and, sadly, adults, see letters
that aren't there, or skip seeing letters that ARE there. It's a big cause of
the current epidemic of reading disabilities and bad reading habits that are
wreaking havoc with everything from schoolwork to business productivity.
The "old" way, which is the best
way, is to accurately decode each word from left to right. It becomes automatic,
and you can go just as fast, if not faster, as a whole-language reader. The
difference is, with phonics, your accuracy rate will be close to 100%, and you
won't develop difficult-to-fix bad habits like mixing up "lose" and "loose."
But you can shake this habit. You
can use a simple memory device to remember when you need one "o" and when you
If you LOSE the "o," it won't even
be a word any more.
And when the two "o's" are floating
around and bumping into each other, they're LOOSE.
By Susan Darst Williams • www.GoBigEd.com • Grammar Granny
022 • © 2006