Choose or chose?
One of the most common challenges in the English language is using the correct form of the verb ‘choose.’
‘Choose’ and ‘chose’ look and sound similar and have almost the same meaning, so it makes sense that they get mixed up in writing. Mixing the words up will make your content look messy and clumsy and can even change its meaning.
This article will explain the specific rules when using ‘choose’ and ‘chose’ and clarify the differences between the words. So, get ready and let’s dive right in!
Choose vs. chose: What is the difference?
As previously mentioned, ‘choose’ and ‘chose’ have related meanings and often get mixed up. Let’s take a closer look at their definitions:
Choose is considered an irregular verb, meaning to decide on a certain course of action or pick something from a selection of different options.
Some synonyms for ‘choose’:
- Decide (on)
- Opt (for)
Chose is the past test of ‘choose.’ Simple, right? For example, we say, “I chose to drive this way because I thought it would help us arrive at our destination quicker.” Chose, then, means to have decided on a course of action or to have picked something from a selection of options.
Synonyms for ‘chose’ include:
- Decided (on)
- Opted (for)
So, what’s the catch?
The past tense
If ‘choose’ was a regular verb, the simple past tense form would have been ‘choosed.’ However, it’s an irregular verb, meaning we’re stuck (another irregular verb, ‘stuck’ not ‘sticked’) with ‘chose’ instead. ‘Choosed’ and ‘chosed’ don’t exist in English.
Consider the following sentences to see the difference between ‘choose’ and ‘chose’:
- I choose to wear a pink shirt at John’s party, while my friend, Bob, will wear blue.
- I chose to wear a pink shirt at John’s party, though my friend, Bob, wore blue.
Now, the first example shows that the party is in the present or it will happen in the near future. The second example suggests that the party took place in the past. Even though just an ‘o’ is added or removed, the meaning of the sentences is drastically different, changing the context.
When and why to use choose
When you describe the action of selecting something presently, as in the present, use ‘choose’:
- I choose to visit John every Sunday because we have a good time together.
- We can’t choose our relatives.
- If you choose me for the promotion, I won’t fail you.
Keep in mind that the word ‘choose’ is also a verb, so it has to agree with the subject:
- Since Bob is on a diet, he chooses between French fries and rice every time he goes to a restaurant.
- If Lenny chooses wrong, his world will turn upside down.
If ‘choose’ takes an auxiliary verb, such as will or go, it will form the future tense. For example:
- Better they choose a point guard in the NBA draft.
- Will you choose red, white, or rose wine this evening?
- Mary will choose a new supervisor for her University thesis.
- Jonathan won’t choose anything alone. He always needs to consult someone!
When and why to use chose
Use ‘chose’ when you describe the action of selecting something in the simple past tense. For instance:
- I chose to play video games because it was raining outside.
- We chose to travel to Colorado because it had this huge convention.
He chose to have pizza for dinner, even though he was on a diet.
The past participle
Be aware that even if ‘chose’ is the past tense of ‘choose,’ it is not the past participle. Instead, ‘chosen’ is the past participle of ‘choose,’ and it’s used to form the past perfect tense with an auxiliary verb:
- France has finally chosen its new President. She will be sworn into office this February.
- It appeared they had chosen three different desserts instead of two, like everyone thought.
- I believe we’ve chosen the right candidate for the job.
Last but not least, ‘chosen’ can also modify a noun, like God’s chosen people or chosen one.
How to remember the difference: Here are some tips
Remember, the difference between ‘choose’ and ‘chose’ is challenging. Some linguists and grammarians insist that you should just remember that ‘choose’ happens in the present, while ‘chose’ is in the past. They also suggest that you associate the double ‘o’ with words like ‘soon.’
Another tip is to replace ‘choose’ or ‘chose’ with synonyms and completely avoid using them in the first place. For example, if you ‘choose’ something now, it will happen ‘soon’ in the future. Alternatively, just remember that ‘chose’ and past are shorter words than ‘choose’ and present.
- I chose to have pasta for dinner yesterday.
‘Chose’ is the right word because yesterday is in the past. However, we can double-check this by using past tense synonyms, such as ‘selected,’ ‘picked,’ or ‘decided’:
- I decided to have pasta for dinner yesterday.
- I picked pasta for dinner yesterday.
In the same manner, we can check whether our use of ‘choose’ in the simple present tense is correct:
- I choose Manuel to help me with the chores because he is very dependable.
- I picked Manuel to help me with the chores because he is very dependable.
- I decided to get help with the chores from Manuel because he is very dependable.
The present continuous
Remember that as a verb, ‘choose’ has a present continuous (even irregular verbs have a present continuous). Example sentences:
- I am choosing Donald as the team leader because he has a fighting spirit.
- Sue seems to have a hang of this machine, so we are choosing her for the operator position.
Etymology for choose
Here’s an interesting fact: ‘Chosen,’ the past participle of ‘choose,’ was originally the meaning of present tense ‘choose’ in Middle English (i.e., in Shakespeare’s era). Back then, people used ‘chosen’ instead of modern-day ‘choose’.
Now, Middle English ‘chosen’ derives from the Old English word ceosan (i.e., the time of Anglo-Saxons and King Alfred the Great), which comes from the Old High German word ‘kiosan,’ meaning ‘to choose’ - kind of obvious, considering Anglo-Saxons were essentially Saxons, the natives of Germania.
Finally, ‘kiosan’ comes from the Latin word ‘gustare,’ which translates ‘to taste’.
Even though it can be hard and tricky to remember the difference between ‘choose’ and ‘chose,’ there is a difference in how the words are used. If used with an auxiliary verb, ‘choose’ is always used in the present or simple future tense. On the other hand, ‘chose’ is the past tense form of ‘choose.’
Undoubtedly, using ‘choose’ and ‘chose’ correctly is crucial for your context and word flow and can help your readers understand your writing better.
Here are some additional example sentences of ‘choose’ and ‘chose’ in the English language:
- Choose your friends wisely.
- Mark can’t choose between watching baseball and basketball; both are awesome and exciting.
- Mark chose to watch both baseball and basketball at the same time. I still cannot understand how he did it!
- Choosing between chocolate and ice cream, we always choose chocolate ice cream.
- Years ago, we chose to listen to grunge music, but not anymore. We choose classic rock n roll now.
- If there were an ice rink in my city, I would have chosen ice hockey as my favourite recreational activity.
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