Chose vs. choose

The verb choose describes the act of making a decision or choosing something out of several different options. Chose is the past tense form of choose and is not used in the same tense as choose, chosen, or choosing.

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What is the difference between choose and chose?

Words like chose and choose are commonly confused words, but this makes sense as we learn how many different forms of the word choose exist. The verbs chose and choose both describe the act of selecting a preferred option or making a decision, and they’re each related of the same idea: choice. As you may know, the noun choice describes the task of selecting between two or more options. It’s when we put the task of choice into action that we begin confusing words like choose and chose–– but how? 

Same word, different tense form

The key to understanding the difference between choose and chose is realizing how they’re each a conjugation of the same infinitive: “to choose.” Similar examples include:

  • Had vs. have
  • Left vs. leave
  • Slept vs. sleep
  • Ate vs. eat 

In general, chose is the past tense form of the verb choose, while choose is used for present or future tense forms. It’s also worth noting how the word choose is an irregular verb, which means that its past tense form doesn’t end with the typical -ed. Instead, the past participle of choose is chosen

Here a few examples of other irregular verbs and their infinitive vs. past participle forms: 

  • Beat (beat)
  • Draw (drew)
  • Fly (flew)
  • Pay (paid)
  • Write (wrote)

What does chose mean?

The word chose is the simple past tense form of the verb choose. Chose is a transitive verb and it defines the act of making a decision after consideration in the past-tense. 

For example,

We chose to read The Odyssey in high school. 
Last week he chose to pick up his toys.

While it is used less regularly, chose is also used as a noun to describe a personal item and pronounced as “shoz” instead of “ch-owes.” 

What is the synonym for chose?

Since chose is the past-tense conjugation of choose, the synonyms for chose are also past-tense: accepted, appointed, decided on, elected, favored, opted for, picked, prefered, selected.

What does choose mean?

The word choose defines the act of making a decision that has not yet occurred or is in the process of occurring. The word choose stems from the Old English cēosan, which is of Proto-Germanic origin and translates to choose, select, decide, accept, and approve. 

Unlike its past tense form, the word choose is conjugated into several verb forms that can occur in the past, present, or future tense. The infinitive form of choose is “to choose,” and is conjugated into chose, chosen, choose, and choosing

There are other circumstances where we use the word choose outside of its formal dictionary format. We use the word choose for adjectives like “choosy,” which describes someone as being very picky or too selective. For example,

When it comes to boyfriends, my sister is not choosy enough. 
Don’t invite Chris over for dinner, he’s too choosy to like our food anyways.

We also use the word choose in phrases like, “cannot choose but,” which describes the experience of feeling compelled or obligated. For example,

When the roller coaster drops, I cannot choose but to scream.

Synonyms of choose:

Accept, adopt, appoint, cast, decide, designate, elect, fancy, favor, cherry-pick, Cull, handpick, name, opt for, pick, prefer, select, single out, tag, take. 

Antonyms of choose:

Abstain, decline, discard, refuse, reject, throw away, throw out, turn down.

Chose vs. choose verb forms: the root of all confusion

The word choose isn’t as simple as we’d like to believe. This is especially true for students who are learning English as a Second Language (ESL) since our irregular verb doesn’t always follow the standard “they will,” “they do,” “they did” format. It’s worth noting how the most common auxiliary verbs used with chosen and choosing are “have” and “be,” but neither auxiliary verb is used with chose or choose.

The infinitive verb, to choose, is used as choose, chose, chosen, and choosing–– which are all used for overlapping conjugations. So, before we dive into sentence examples, here is a quick run-down of how choose is used across the verb tense spectrum: 

Chose

Simple past tense: We chose.

Choose

Infinitive: To choose.
Present tense: We choose.
Future tense: We will choose.
Imperative mood (forms command or request): Let’s choose.

Chosen

Present perfect tense (occurred in indefinite past and/or continued into the present):  We have chosen. 
Past perfect tense (completed action from the past): We had chosen.
Future perfect tense (to take place in the future):  We will have chosen.
Perfect participle (completed action): Having chosen.

Choosing

Past continuous (occurred sometime in the past): We were choosing.
Present perfect continuous (past event continuing into the present): We have been choosing.
Past perfect continuous (started in the past until a certain past point): We had been choosing.
Present continuous: We are choosing.
Future continuous (happening now and into the future): We will be choosing.
Future perfect continuous: We will have been choosing.
Present participle (continuous state): Choosing.

How to use chose vs. choose with the correct tense form

Now that we have a clear idea for how choose is used for each verb tense, we can see the differences in how to use choose and chose in a sentence. 

How do you use chose in a sentence?

Chose is the preterite or simple past tense of the verb choose

I chose to watch Lord of the Rings. 
Frodo chose to destroy the ring.

How do you use choose in a sentence?

Since to choose is the infinitive form of choose, we use the word choose to describe the act of selecting a number of possibilities in the simple present tense, simple future tense, or imperative mood.

Simple present tense

We choose Star Trek because it’s better than Star Wars. 
I cannot choose Star Trek over Star Wars. 

Simple future tense

We will choose The Next Generation over Enterprise.
I will choose Picard over Riker every time. 

Imperative mood

Let’s choose between Voyager and Deep Space Nine.
Don’t choose Klingon as your second language on dating apps. 

How to use chose vs. choose as transitive and intransitive verbs

Other variables create confusion between choose vs chose, such as how they’re written in a sentence as either transitive or intransitive verbs. The difference between either form depends on whether a direct object follows the verb or not. 

How to use chose and choose as transitive verbs

To use a transitive verb correctly, the verb is received by the sentence object. For the object to receive the action, a transitive verb occurs after the noun-in-action and before the object receiving the action. For example, 

Molly chose red paint over blue paint. 

In this example, Molly is the noun that is committing the action, chose. The red paint is the sentence’s direct object receiving the action, while the blue paint is the sentence’s indirect object. In either case, both objects receive the verb. 

As a transitive verb, choose is used to describe a decision made after deliberation, a choice made out of preference, or making a selection out of several options in the present or future tense. For example,

We need you to choose a film for movie night. 
Can you choose him over my brother? 
I might choose to stay at home. 

How to use chose and chose as intransitive verbs

Unlike transitive verbs, intransitive verbs do not need an object to act on. In fact, if you place an object after an intransitive verb in a sentence, the sentence is grammatically incorrect. Let’s take a look at an example using two intransitive verbs:

Amy chose to jump river.  

For this example, chose and jump both act as intransitive verbs. There is no direct object receiving the verb chose, but since the word “river” is used as a direct object after “jump,” the sentence doesn’t make sense. The only words used after intransitive verbs are adverbs or prepositional phrases. Let’s take a look at the example with a prepositional phrase:

Amy chose to jump into the river. 
Amy chose to jump the river. 

Depending on which preposition used, their use can change entire meanings a sentence. By adding “into the” before “river,” we understand that Amy decided to plunge herself into a river. But if we only use “the,” we understand that Amy decided to hurl herself over the river.

When used as an intransitive verb, choose still carries the same definition, but is used without a direct object in the sentence. For example,

Why must I choose?
What options are there to choose from? 
You can bring whoever you choose for the wedding. 

How to remember the difference between choose vs. chose?

When it comes to chose vs choose, the issue isn’t that people don’t understand the difference between past or present tense. It’s simply that we’re more likely to battle autocorrect when two words are spelled very similarly. When pronounced aloud, it’s easy to tell chose and choose apart and which context they’re appropriately used for: 

Chose is pronounced as “ch-owes.” 
Choose is pronounced as “ch-ooze.”  

Each word is pronounced through one syllable, but the extra letter o emphasizes the “z” ending in the word choose. So, based one these two distinctions of orthoepy, we can attempt to associate the spelling of chose with the correct tense-usage: 

Pronounce chose = sounds with an ‘owe’ = you “owe” what you’ve used in the past

Pronounce choose = sounds with an ‘ooze’ = objects “ooze” now or later.

FAQ: Related to Chose vs. choose

What are adverbs and prepositional phrases?

As we can see from our examples from the intransitive verb section, prepositional phrases and adverbs are important for learning how to use transitive and intransitive verbs correctly. But if you don’t recognize what these terms mean, don’t worry–– you use them more often than you think. 

There are countless types of adverbs we use in the English language, and we use them to describe other adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. We can categorize types of adverbs based on how they describe the actions within the sentence, such as: How? Where? When? How much? How often?

Examples of adverbs: quickly, away, later, entirely, almost, often, never. 

A prepositional phrase connects nouns to other adjectives or verbs in the same sentence, and they are often necessary for whole phrases to make sense. 

Examples of prepositional phrases: after, at, before, by, for, in, of, on, to, past. 

Test Yourself!

To choose or to chose? Do you you think you know the difference? Test your choose vs. chose knowledge with the following multiple-choice questions. 

  1. The present tense of the verb choose is not synonymous with which term?
    a. Select
    b. Single out
    c. Espouse
    d. Reject
  2. The past tense of choose is chose, but which verb form is also used to describe the infinitive “choose” in the past tense? 
    a. Chosen
    b. Choosing
    c. Choose
    d. Chosen and choosing
  3. Meena hasn’t ________ which month she plans to emigrate from the United States. 
    a. Chose
    b. Choose
    c. Chosen
    d. None of the above
  4. Hundreds of Americans ________ to immigrate to Canada.
    a. Chose
    b. Choose
    c. Choosing
    d. Chose and choose
  5. Determine the correct verb forms shown in the following statement: “We’re choosing the best course of action, but we must choose before midnight.”
    a. Future tense, imperative 
    b. Present perfect continuous, future perfect tense
    c. Present continuous, present perfect tense
    d. Present continuous, future tense

Answers

  1. D
  2. D
  3. C
  4. D
  5. D

Sources

  1. Chose.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  2. Chose.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2019.
  3. Choose.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  4. Choose.” Online Etymology Dictionary, 2019. 
  5. Choose.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2019.
  6. Choose.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2019.
  7. Grammar: Transitive and Intransitive Verbs.” Walden University, 2019. 
  8. Irregular verb.” Dictionary.com, 2019. 
  9. Transitive and Intransitive Verbs.” The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, n.d.