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What’s the Past Tense of Lose?

The past tense and past participle forms of the verb lose are both lost.

The verb lose in text conversation. Written by Mina Han; made by Gflex on Canva.
The verb lose in text conversation. Written by Mina Han, and made by Gflex on Canva.

What’s the past tense of “lose”?  

As an irregular verb, the past tense of lose can leave you feeling lost (and if you’re very confused, you might even feel “losed”). If that’s the case, there’s no need to get a map or compass out—you’re in the right place. The past tense and past participle forms of the verb lose are both lost.  

Lose is a very versatile verb. In fact, it can even be used as an adjective. With its multiple meanings and applications, the correct forms and usage of lose are definitely worth mastering.

The short answer

To lose can mean many things: “to miss from one’s possession or from a customary or supposed place,” “to fail to win,” “to wander or go astray from,” or “to get rid of.” In everyday conversation, to “lose it” refers to losing one’s temper, or one’s ability to think clearly.

simpleI loseI lostI will lose
continuousI am losingI was losingI will be losing
perfectI have lostI had lostI will have lost
perfect continuousI have been losingI had been losingI will have been losing
12 verb tenses of ‘lose‘.

To lose is in the present tense:  They lose every chess match.

Lost is the simple past:  I lost my cookbook!

Lost is the past participle: ‍ Lost items should be turned in to the security desk.‍

Is lose a regular or irregular verb?

Lose is an irregular verb because its past tense form, lost, is an irregular suffix. This means that it does not end in -ed. As long as you know the past tense form of a verb, you can identify whether a verb is regular or irregular by checking its suffix. Anything that ends in -ed is regular, and anything else is irregular.

base verbpast tensepast participle
spitspat spat
loselost lost

Past participle vs. the past tense of “lose”

Despite its many meanings, the simple past tense form of lose can only be used in one way: as an action completed in the past. Conversely, the past participle form of lose has multiple functions…As a past participle, lost does not indicate tense on its own— it must first be paired with an auxiliary verb. Lost usually follows the auxiliary verbs have, had, and was.

“He was lost and terrified.”  

“She has lost the documents.”

“That’s it— I’ve officially lost it.”

The past participle form of a verb may also behave like an adjective. Lost is very frequently used in this manner. An auxiliary verb is not always necessary when using the past participle as an adjective (as demonstrated in the examples below), but they may still make an appearance (see the first sentence in the group of examples above).

“The lost customer wandered in hopes of finding an employee.”

Lost items are always in the last place you look!”

“Her lost hat was found by the swing set.”

Examples of the verb lose in context

1. If you don’t stop clicking your pen, I’m going to lose my mind!

2. They practiced every day, for they did not want to lose the game.

3. You won’t lose your way if you have a map!

4. Win or lose, what matters is that we tried our best.

5. She always loses her headphones.‍

The past tense lost used in sentence examples

1. He lost the staring contest when she clapped her hands.

2. My favourite team lost to some amateurs.

3. I lost myself in the soft music and beautiful architecture.

4. She lost her dog last week.

5. He lost the project that he had spent weeks working on!

Sentence examples of the participle lost

1. The lost cat is an orange tabby.

2. No one was at the party because they had all gotten lost on the way there.

3. He couldn’t stand thinking about all he had lost.

4. Don’t bother trying; it’s a lost cause.

5. I thought my glasses were lost, but I was actually wearing them the entire time!

Idioms with lose


to lose your marbles (lose your mind/out of it)‍To be of common or lower social standing/class.
lose your patienceTo become irritated or annoyed at someone/something.
to lose one’s grip on something To feel one does not have a handle on a situation.
nothing to lose sleep overMeaning that it’s not something to worry about.
lose train of thought To forget what you’re thinking about.
lend your money and lose your friend Don’t mix friends and money together.
lose one’s doughnuts To vomit profusely.
a tale never loses in the telling Meaning stories become exaggerated/embellished with each retelling.
lose the thread/the drift Said when one is not following the conversation/discussion.
you must lose a fly to catch a trout Small sacrifices are sometimes made for bigger gains.
win some, lose some Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
you snooze, you lose If you wait on an opportunity you might miss out.

Origin of the word/verb lose

From etymology online on lose (v.):

Old English losian “be lost, perish,” from los “destruction, loss”. The Germanic word is from PIE *leus-, an extended form of root *leu- “to loosen, divide, cut apart.

Other commonly confused verb tenses

Learn more about verbs


  1. “Lose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2023.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of lose.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 21 January, 2023.
  3. “Lose.” 2023. Farlex, Inc. 21 Jan. 2023

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