Miss or Lose? What’s the difference?

The verbs miss and lose have several different meanings and they can be confusing.
In some languages there are situations where one verb covers them both.  But they have different meanings in English, so let’s see how we use them so you can avoid mistakes. We have lots of examples here.


Click here to see a video about lose, loose and loosen.
Click here to see more grammar videos
Click these links to see more videos on common false friends: sympathetic and nice, story and history, actually and currently, sensible and sensitive.

Miss Lose Video Script

We went to the cinema last night.
It was a great movie.
We missed the first ten minutes.
I lost my car keys and it took a while to find them.
So we don’t know how the movie started. But it had a great ending.

Both these verbs have several different meanings in English. Let’s start with ‘miss’.

OK, I’m off.
Oh, I’ll miss you.
I’ll miss you too.
Bye darling.
Bye, bye.

So we use ‘miss’ to describe the sad feelings we get when somebody isn’t with us any more.

Hi there!
Barry!
Gee, I missed you folks!
Have you? Well, we certainly missed you.

‘Miss’ can also mean ‘fail to hit a target’. So we can miss a catch, and we can miss a shot.

Ah! I missed.

So with this meaning ‘miss’ means fail to make contact with something or someone.

Take care!
Jay, have you seen Jase?
Oh, you just missed him.
Ah! I wanted to speak to him.

Excuse me, could you tell me the way to the station?
Oh yeah. Go three blocks that way. It’ll be right in front of you. You can’t miss it.
Thank you.

Come on Vick.
You want to leave now?
Yes, if we leave now we’ll miss the rush hour. Oh right.

Hello?
Hey Jay, are you coming?
Yes but I’m gonna be late. I missed the 9 o’clock train so I’ll catch the 10 o’clock.
Oh all right. Well, I’ll see you soon then. Yep. Bye.

We use ‘miss’ in this sense to talk about being late for something. When we fail to catch a plane or a train, we miss it.

Come on Jay.
I want to find my gloves.
Hurry up or we’ll miss our bus.

In some languages you could use the verb ‘lose’ in this context, but that doesn’t work in English. You can’t lose a bus unless you’re a very careless bus driver. That’s because when we lose something we can’t find it.

What are you looking for?
Oh I lost the remote.
Ah.

This is the only key we have, so don’t lose it.
OK.

Lose is an irregular verb. Lose, Lost, Lost. Now something to note. If we can’t find things, we can say they’re missing.

Are you sure we have all the pieces?
I don’t know. I think some might be missing.

Vicki, one of my boots is missing.

‘Missing’ is an adjective in these sentences and it means ‘lost’. If something is missing, we don’t have it.

Vicki, one of my boots is missing.
Well, I don’t have it. Look in the cupboard.

And here’s where it can get tricky. We generally don’t use the verb ‘miss’ to say we don’t have something.

I need a new bicycle, but we don’t have the money.

If you don’t have something, say you don’t have it. Don’t say you miss it. That’s wrong. OK, so now let’s look at another meaning of ‘lose’.

So who won the match? Oh we lost, three nil. Ah!

Lose can mean the opposite of win.

Heads or tails?
Heads.
Tails. You lose!

So we can lose a game and we can lose lots of other things too. We can lose our balance. We can lose our temper. We can lose weight. Politicians can lose an election. Can you think of more things we can lose? Tell us in the comments below.

Did you see the game last night?
No I missed it. I’m gonna watch the recording tonight.
Ah. The Phillies lost.
Why did you tell me?!

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
Click here to see a video about lose, loose and loosen.
Click here to see more grammar videos
Click here to learn about Fix It – our free checklist to help you fix common mistakes
Click these links to see more videos on common false friends: sympathetic and nice, story and history, actually and currently, sensible and sensitive.

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