How to Use Lose, Lost and Loss Correctly

How to Use Lose, Lost and Loss Correctly

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In this month’s #allYouGottaDoIsAsk post, we answer Hawa’s question:

Baini,

I have a clear understanding of ‘lose’ and ‘loose’ but I want to understand the difference between the ‘lose’, ‘lost’ and ‘loss’. Especially the difference between ‘lost’ and ‘loss’. If I have been exercising and eating well, have I loss weight or have I lost weight?

Thank you Hawa for the question. And kudos for taking care of yourself by exercising and eating well. The outcome of weight loss is secondary compared to making self-care a primary habit.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the differences between ‘Lose’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Loss’.

CORRECT USE OF ‘LOSE’

LOSE
Lose is a present tense verb which means to go missing, to be deprived of or unable to retain.

That said, in most cases something needs to have been lost (stated in its past tense) for one to realise it had gone missing. This is why we do not see the word ‘lose’ being expressed as much as the word ‘lost’.

To anchor the understanding of the meaning and the usage of the word ‘lose’, let’s check out how ‘lose’ is used and can be used to convey our intentions effectively.

Example 1. I have a Plan B shall I lose my grant after the financial review.

The sentence above expresses one’s awareness of the risk of losing something (a grant) in the future. The term ‘lose’ is used to express a future possibility, a risk, a negative outcome of an assessment. Being aware of our stand at ‘losing’ something, we can express that matter in the present tense using ‘lose’. This is a bit off-tangent, but if you know you stand to lose something, please be prepared. Which brings us to our next example.

The sentence above carries the meaning, “Saya ada Pelan B sekiranya geran saya tidak dilangsungkan selepas mesyuarat kewangan.” Note that the direct translation of ‘lose’ which is ‘hilang‘ is not used in the translation.

Example 2. I stand to lose my job if I don’t get re-skilled.

The sentence above expresses ones future if no action is taken to improvise. The term ‘lose’ is used by expressing the future possibility, the risk, the negative outcome after the use of of the preposition ‘to’. Note that at any time the preposition ‘to’ is used before a verb, the verb that follows must be in the form of its root word.

The sentence above carries the meaning, “Saya akan kehilangan pekerjaan jika tidak mempelajari kemahiran baharu.” Note that the direct translation of ‘lose’ which is ‘hilang‘ is used in this translation.

CORRECT USE OF ‘LOST’

LOST
Lost is the past tense verb which means a bygone, something that had gone missing or taken away.

Malaysians have less problems understanding and using the term ‘lost’ as it has a direct translation which functions almost adequately in Bahasa Melayu as ‘lost’, which is ‘hilang‘. But there are instances where the term ‘lost’ isn’t directly translated as ‘hilang‘. In explaining the use of ‘lost’, I will use several examples where ‘lost’ does not necessarily mean ‘hilang‘. This would allow you to use the terms ‘lose’ and ‘lost’ more effectively to communicate.

So let’s play with some sample sentences to anchor our understanding on the use of ‘lost’ as a strong basic understanding would inevitably help with the understanding of the term ‘loss’.

Example 3. We lost our grant for the lack of progress.

The sentence above expresses something that was taken away (a grant). The term ‘lost’ is expressed as a past tense as an outcome, an effect. When this statement is translated to Bahasa Melayu as, “Geran kami ditarik balik kerana tidak menunjukkan kemajuan.” Note that the word ‘hilang‘ is no where used in its translation?

Example 4. She told us to get lost.

The sentence above expresses a direction to go away. The term ‘lost’ expressed as an outcome to the Subject (she) for the Object (us) to lose from her sight. The direct translation of this sentence in Bahasa Melayu would be, “Dia menyuruh kami pergi.” Note that again, the word ‘hilang‘ is no where used in its translation?

Example 5. He lost his watch.

The example above expresses the loss of a watch. The term ‘lost’ is expressed as something that had gone missing, which is a loss to him. The direct translation of this sentence in Bahasa Melayu would be “Jam dia hilang.” Note that this is the only instance where the use of ‘lost’ is translated as ‘hilang‘.

CORRECT USE OF ‘LOSS’

Loss
Loss is a noun which refers to something one stands to lose or something that is already lost.

The term loss is always mistakenly used with lost as most Malaysians are not aware of the different usage of the terms when indicated as a noun or a verb. The correct use of ‘lost’ and ‘loss’ for its intended purpose gives one the polished ability to convey his/her intended message effectively.

Let’s delve into some examples to have a clearer understanding on the use of ‘Loss’.

Example 6. The fat loss program was effective

The example above expresses a program that helped reduce fat. The term ‘loss’ is expressed as a description to the program, which is a fat loss program. The direct translation of this sentence in Bahasa Melayu would be “Program nyah lemak itu berjaya.” Note that this is an instance where the use of ‘loss’ is translated as ‘nyah‘.

Example 7. The financial loss crippled the organisation.

The example above expresses a bankruptcy of a corporate. The term ‘loss’ is expressed where the organisation is not making profit. The direct translation of this sentence in Bahasa Melayu would be “Syarikat itu gulung tikar akibat kerugian.” Note that this is an instance where ‘loss’ is translated as kerugian.

So at the end of your reading, could you see the difference between ‘lost’ and ‘loss? Not all that is lost is a loss! 🙂

There, to answer Hawa’s question – you have lost weight and you have undergone weight loss!

So now I would like to hear from you. Is there any English words that almost sound the same or have almost the same meaning that you need a little clarification about? Feel free to comment below with your question or to reply to my email if you subscribe to The Baini Mustafa Weekly Email. If you wish to receive weekly updates from me on free English grammar lessons, reading tips and some freebies – head on to subscribe here.

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