• 3-minute read
  • 3rd May 2018

Word Choice: Choose vs. Chose

Some choices in life are hard. Examples include choosing where to go to university, whether to settle down and start a family, and whether to use ‘choose’ or ‘chose’ in your writing.

It’s tougher to choose than you might think…

But while there are no definite answers to those first two, we can offer some advice on the last one: ‘choose’ and ‘chose’ might look similar on paper, but they are actually different tenses of the same verb. Join us, then, to take a quick look at how these terms should be used.

Choose (Simple Present Tense)

To ‘choose’ something is to make a choice. This is the simple present tense version of this word, except for in the singular third person, when it becomes ‘chooses’ instead:

I choose to eat ice cream.

She chooses to surf.

We use this term when referring to general facts, habits or choices being made in the present moment.

To discuss future choices, you can use ‘will choose’ or ‘shall choose’ to form the simple future tense. Similarly, combining ‘choose’ with a modal verb (e.g. ‘should’ or ‘would’) expresses a hypothetical:

We will choose what to do at the beach when we get there.

I would choose to sunbathe if I were going.

The first sentence here is in the simple future tense. The second is in the subjunctive mood.

Chose (Simple Past Tense)

‘Chose’ is only ever used in the simple past tense. For example:

We chose to go swimming yesterday.

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As shown above, ‘chose’ is used to discuss a decision made in the past.

Choosing (Present Participle)

There are two participle versions of ‘choose’ as well. The present participle version is ‘choosing’:

He is choosing what to do at the beach.

We use ‘choosing’ when describing an ongoing choice or the process of making a decision.

Chosen (Past Participle)

Finally, we have ‘chosen’. This is a past participle, so we would use it in a sentence like this:

I have chosen to stay at home.

The key here is that ‘chosen’ describes a past choice that still applies in the present. In this case, the choice is relevant to the present because it means the speaker is at home instead of at the beach.

Chose or Choose?

Back to ‘choose’ and ‘chose’ now, as these are the words that cause most problems. One tip here is to proofread your work carefully, as this will help you spot typos. But if you’re ever unsure which term is correct, remember:

Choose = Simple present tense

Chose = Simple past tense

As a bonus tip, remember that both ‘choose’ and ‘choosing’ refer to something in the present, and that both have a double ‘o’. So if you need the present tense verb, go for the one with the ‘oo’!

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