Loss vs. Lost: What’s the Difference?

Both loss and lost have to do with losing. To lose something is to misplace it, to fail to win, to get rid of, or a number of other meanings.

  • To misplace something.
    • He keeps losing his car keys.
  • To fail to win.
    • The Lakers are losing the game right now.
  • To rid oneself of.
    • I will be losing 10 pounds this year.

Although loss and lost both deal with the same subject, they perform different functions in a sentence.

What is the Difference Between Loss and Lost?

In this post, I will compare loss vs. lost. I will go over their functions and uses in a sentence, and I will use examples of each. Plus, at the end, I will give you an easy trick to remember the difference.

After reading this post, you won’t ever again wonder, “When do I use lost or loss?”

When to Use Loss

loss versus lost grammarWhat does loss mean? Loss is a noun and is defined as the act or an instance of losing.

  • That was an unexpected loss.
  • The family suffered a terrible loss with the death of Jane.

If you sell something at a loss, you are selling it below cost.

When to Use Lost

lost versus loss meaningWhat does lost mean? Lost is the past tense and past participle of lose. Since lost is a verb, you should expect to see it following a subject of some kind.

  • She lost her car in the crowded parking lot.

Lost as an adjective. Lost can also function as an adjective in a sentence.

  • The lost child.
  • A lost opportunity.
  • My basketball is lost

Examples

  • Angels center fielder Mike Trout brought comfort — and gifts — to a South New Jersey family that lost its home to a fire with a surprise Christmas Eve visit. –L.A. Times
  • Before the season, the Vikings lost two of their top players. –The Washington Post
  • The Japanese conglomerate has been struggling with the aftermath of a major accounting scandal, compounded by troubles in nuclear energy and losses in the business that makes personal computers, TVs and consumer appliances. –Houston Chronicle

Trick to Remember the Difference

Here is a good trick to remember lost vs. loss. If you can remember this simple mental check, you will be all set.

Check one: Lost is the past tense of to lose. Lost and past tense both contain the letter “t.”

Summary

Is it lost or loss? Both words have to do with losing something, but they are different parts of speech.

Loss is a noun and refers to the act of losing.

Lost is the past tense and past participle of to lose.