Choose and chose sound and look similar and have related meanings, so they are quite often mixed up in writing. However, there are specific rules about when to use choose and chose. Confusing them will make your writing look clumsy and change the context of your sentence.
Choose vs. Chose: What is the Difference?
Choose (pronounced chooze/chews – rhymes with snooze/booze/news) is an irregular verb, meaning to pick something from a selection of options or to decide on a course of action. Synonyms for choose are opt (for), decide (on), pick or select.
Chose (pronounced choez/choes -rhymes with goes/toes/knows) is the past tense of choose. Thus, chose means to have picked something from a selection of options or to have decided on a course of action.Synonyms for chose are opted (for), decided (on), picked or selected.
If choose was a regular verb, we would expect the past tense to be ‘choosed’. But it’s an irregular verb, and we use chose instead. The word ‘choosed’ does not exist in English. Neither does chosed.
Consider these two similar sentences that show the important context created by choose and chose:
I chose to wear white on my wedding day, while my wife wore yellow.
I choose to wear white on my wedding day, though my wife will wear yellow.
The first example suggests that the wedding was in the past. The second example suggests that the wedding is in the present or near future. Only a single ‘O’ is added to make the sentences different, but the context completely changes.
When to Use Choose + Original Examples
Use choose when describing the action of picking something in the present tense:
I often choose a red tie for work on Fridays.
We can’t choose our parents.
If you choose me for the job, you won’t regret it.
Remember that choose is a verb, so it must agree with its subject:
Since he is on a diet, Estevan chooses between chocolate and popcorn each time he goes to the movies.
Mia chooses a black dress from her wardrobe to go with her new shoes.
If choose takes an auxiliary verb, like go or will, it can form the future tense:
They should choose a quarterback in the NFL Draft.
Will you choose red or white wine with your dinner?
Dan is going to choose a new mentor for his graduate program.
Henry won’t choose a date without consulting me, will he?
When to Use Chose + Original Examples
Use chose when describing the action of picking something in the simple past tense:
I chose to go to the movies last Saturday.
We chose to go to Florida on vacation, and it rained the whole time.
Napoleon chose to invade Russia, which proved to be a big mistake.
Please be aware that while chose is the past tense of choose, it is not the past participle: Chosen is the past participle of choose, used to form the past perfect tense with an auxiliary verb:
The teacher had chosen the winners before the exam results were known.
It emerged they had chosen three new players, instead of two players like commonly thought.
America has chosen its next President; she will be sworn into office in January.
*Chosen can also be used to modify a noun, such as the chosen one or God’s chosen people.
Tips to Remember the Difference
How to remember the difference between choose and chose? Some grammarians will advise that you should think about the fact choose is happening in the present, suggesting you should look at the double ‘O’ and associate it with double ‘O’ words like soon, i.e. if you choose now it will happen soon. You could also focus on the fact that chose and past are shorter words than choose and present.
Another good tip is to replace the sentence with those regular verbs that are synonyms of choose and chose. For example:
I chose chicken for dinner last night.
We know chose is right because last night is telling us it is in the past, but we can double check with these past tense synonyms of chose, all of which are regular verbs ending in ‘ed’.
I picked chicken for dinner last.
I selected chicken for dinner last night.
Similarly, we can double check the use of choose with its present tense synonyms.
We choose James for the team now, as he has clearly become the one we want on the team.
We pick James for the team now, as he has clearly become the one we want on the team.
We select James for the team now, as he has clearly become the one we want on the team.
While it can be tricky to remember the difference between choose and chose, there is a clear difference in the usage of the words. Chose is always the (simple) past tense, whereas choose is always the present tense or the future tense when combined with an auxiliary verb. Using choose and chose correctly is important for the context of your sentence, i.e. when the action of choosing took place.
Some more original examples of choose and chose in English:
I can’t choose between candy and ice cream; they’re both delicious.
We chose both candy and ice cream when we went to the movies last week.
Choose your friends wisely.
Given the choice of soccer or basketball, we always choose the latter.
In the past, we chose baseball over soccer and basketball, but not now.
We would have chosen ice hockey, but there was no ice rink in our town.