Loss versus Lost

When should you use loss vs. lost? The basic difference between these words is the difference between a noun and a verb. Both words deal with losing, but they are different parts of speech. Loss is a noun; lost is a verb but can also be an adjective.

lost vs loss

When to Use Loss

Loss is a noun, and it means the fact or process of losing something or someone. Budget cuts within a corporation may lead to job loss, and a financial lossmay eventually lead to bankruptcy.

Examples of Loss 

Example: After a devastating game 7 loss, the team was eliminated from the playoffs.

 Example: In its first-ever financial disclosure released this week, the New York-based firm reported a net loss of $103.3 million on trading, with $13.5 million on digital assets and another $85.5 million of unrealized losses on those assets.  Source: CNBC.com

Example: As streaming music has spread around the world, Spotify’s financial picture has remained much the same year after year: rapid revenue growth, with steady losses. Source: New York Times

Loss is used in two senses primarily: the first is the fact of losing (example 1); the second is an amount of money lost by a business or organization (example 2 and 3).

When to Use Lost

Lost is a verb, and it functions as the past participle of to lose. There are many different senses of to lose, but most of them simply boil down to unable to retain; getting rid of; and failing to win.

Example: The U.S. economy had lost two million jobs that year; without a government response, it would lose four million more in the next year. Source: The New Yorker

Example: After six months of steady dieting and exercise, I lost 25 pounds. Now I feel better than ever!

Example: Washington has lost 18 of its past 24 games and remains seven games behind first-place Atlanta in the National League East following the Braves’ second straight loss to the New York Yankees. Source: The Washington Post

Since lost is a verb, you might see it in other conjugations as well. The noun losswill

only ever change to form the plural losses. Lost, however, has a number of different


  • Lose
  • Lost
  • Loses
  • Losing

Lastly, lost has an additional function as an adjective. You can describe something as being a lost cause for instance. In this case, lost is being used as an adjective to describe something that is unable to be foundor hopeless.

Examples of Lost as an Adjective

  • We have solved the case of the lost car keys!
  • While hiking, we got lost in the woods.
  • The lost days of our youth are never coming back.

Recap: When to Use Loss or Lost

What separates these words is their grammatical function. A loss is something that you have lost. Sounds confusing, right?

Don’t worry. It all boils down to these two simple bullet points.

  • Loss is a noun.
  • Lost is a verb.

If you can understand this, you will be able to choose the correct word every time.