Monday, November 5, 2012

Common Error: "Earn," "Win," and "Beat"

Good afternoon, and welcome again to Mistake Monday! I've been busy traveling the last few months, but I'm back in Costa Rica now, so I'll try to update the blog more frequently again. Today I want to look at another Common Error. If you're not sure what kinds of errors I'm talking about, look here for a list of previous errors we've looked at on the blog.

Monopoly (or "Monopolio," as it's called here in Costa Rica) is one of my favorite board games. I don't always win, but I often am able to beat my opponents by buying as many properties as possible. (Photo by Ryan Sitzman)
Today's error is found often when talking about sports or other types of contests. It's also confusing for Spanish speakers because one Spanish word (ganar) can mean all three of the English words. Let's have a closer look:

Common Error: Earn, Win, and Beat
DON’T say this:"She wins a lot of money in her job."
"Saprissa won La Liga in last night's soccer game."
WHY?-Earn refers to the money a person receives for doing work or a job. For example, you can say:
"Pablo earns 5,000 Colones per hour working for the phone company."
"I'd like a job where I can earn enough money to support my family."
In most cases, you can also use the word make instead of earn. ("Pablo makes 5,000 Colones...").

-Win (past tense: won) means that one person or team defeats or conquers another person or team. The opposite is lose (past tense: lost). When you use these words, you usually mention the competition or contest, but not the opponent:
"Jenny was the winner of the poker tournament. She won $50,000!"

"Spain won the World Cup in 2010."

The team with the highest score is the winner, and the team with the lowest score is the loser. Also, you can win a contest or competition unexpectedly (like the lottery or a raffle, for example):
"I hope I win a free car in the supermarket raffle!"

-Beat: Finally, beat is similar to win, but it's used a little differently in a sentence. You have to indicate both the winner and the loser (opponent) when you use the word beat:
"Terry beat Tommy in the video game, but Tommy beat Terry playing soccer."
INSTEAD, SAY THIS:-"She earns a lot of money in her job."
-"Saprissa beat La Liga in last night's soccer game."
-"Saprissa won last night's soccer game."

Hopefully you understand. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment or contact me. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!


  1. Thank you so much. You explain this very well. I have one doubt. What is the difference with the word "gain"

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment.

    "Gain" generally means "to increase." So in that sense, it's the opposite of "lose." For example, you can gain or lose weight, money, respect, etc, but those are all on a scale. In the examples in this post, "lose" is more final, and it's not on a scale; it's just win or lose.

    Does that answer your question?



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