The main site Meta is currently displaying a banner that reads

Lose some reputation points? A system-wide recalc of scores happened.

This raised the question Fix the grammar please? “Lose”->“Lost” some reputation points?

In this case "lose" sounds correct to me, since the full sentence is "Did you lose some reputation?" Is one form more correct than the other, or does it not matter?

3 Answers 3


Either could be correct; it simply depends on how you reconstruct the full sentence from the headline:

Did you lose some reputation points?

Have you lost some reputation points?

Since English telegraphic style allows both "Did you..." and "Have you..." to be omitted, neither is incorrect, and some readers might balk at either one.


The first one is more ambiguous and can support multiple "timeframe" references.

(Did you) lose some reputation points? - past
(Would you like to) lose some reputation points? - future

Whereas the latter implies something that has happened

(Have you) lost some reputation points?

The ambiguity of the first form leans towards choosing the latter form for clarity.

  • 2
    It seems irrelevant that it could be ambiguous when one of the options is: (Would you like to) have something universally undesirable happen?
    – mootinator
    Mar 1, 2011 at 21:24
  • 3
    The "Would you like to" construction seems like a stretch. Have you ever seen an ad saying "Lose 30 pounds?" (with the question mark)?
    – mmyers
    Mar 1, 2011 at 21:35
  • @moot @mmyers Hellion's answer seems to better grasp the ideological error with the phrase form Mar 1, 2011 at 21:44

I'm going on shades of meaning here, but to my ear, "(did you) lose some reputation points?" has an underlying connotation that you took some action that, directly or not, caused the loss of points. "(Have you) lost some reputation points?" has no such implication of agency; something happened, maybe as a result of your action but also maybe because of something entirely out of your control, and now the points cannot be located.

So in addition to the ambiguity that Richard cites in his answer, I prefer the "lost" formation for its closer (in my opinion) approximation to the actual truth, which is that the system did something that made your reputation vanish, not you.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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