Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Are 'lose time' and 'waste time' different in meanings? If so, how does it use the first and the second in different contexts? If not, what is it preferable?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by jwpat7, JeffSahol, Jasper Loy, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Mahnax Apr 26 '12 at 22:30

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3  
You should really look this up, but the main difference would be that you lose time unintentionally, while wasting time is generally on purpose. –  JeffSahol Apr 26 '12 at 21:02
    
@JeffSahol done - thx –  Elberich Schneider Apr 26 '12 at 21:05
    
You can lose time even while doing something that isn't a waste of time. For instance, suppose you need an urgent kidney transplant. With each passing day that a donor is not found, you're losing time. However, you're not wasting your time: you are living your life. –  Kaz Apr 26 '12 at 21:56
    
@Kaz - Is "while" strictly requred in your sentence "... even while doing ... ?" Does "... even while you do ..." have the same meaning of your sentence? –  user19148 Apr 26 '12 at 22:37
    
The word "while" is not strictly required because we can say "lose time doing something that isn't a waste of time". But the meaning changes in a subtle way "lose time doing something" has possible connotations of "lose time by doing something", but if we put in "while", then it emphasizes that we have two independent things going on in parallel (which what we want: the idea is that the patient loses time no matter what). "even while doing" can certainly be replaced by "even while you do". We already have the rhetorical "you" in the first clause of the sentence, so this fits. –  Kaz Apr 26 '12 at 23:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

They're very different, though there are some circumstances where both could apply.

"Lose time" is used when there is an urgency to do something or get somewhere by some particular deadline, and some hold-up happens. It is typically, though not necessarily, something outside the person's control.

We lost half an hour looking for the passports.

"Waste time" does not necessarily imply a deadline: there may be one, but there need not. It tends to be used when the delay is by somebody's action, rather than by an accident or bad luck.

He wasted time putting everything away before he would come.

When used without a possessive pronoun ("wasting time") it implies that somebody is doing something that makes themselves late (and often others as well). With a pronoun, we can talk about "wasting my time" or "wasting your time".

When the latter form is used reflexively, as in "You're wasting your time", the implication is that you are doing something that you think is worthwhile but I'm telling you that it is not.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.