English contains many homophones, that is to say, many words which sound alike when spoken, but retain different meanings. Course and coarse are two such words. Not only do they mean different things, but they are also different parts of speech. One of these words functions as an adjective, and the other can function either as a noun or a verb. Continue reading to discover the difference between these two homophones, and whether you should choose course or coarse, depending on how you’re using it in a sentence.
The word coarse originated from Middle English: from Old French cours, from Latin cursus, from curs- ‘run’, from the verb currere. The word coarse originated from late Middle English (in the sense ‘ordinary or inferior’): origin uncertain; until the 17th century identical in spelling with course, and possibly derived from the latter in the sense ‘ordinary manner’.
Course as noun:
A business studies course.
Course as verb:
Tears were coursing down her cheeks.
Coarse as adjective:
A coarse woolen cloth.
A man of coarse speech.
Based on the study of the use of coarse language by Canadian fishermen, Menzie (1991) concluded that coarse language can reinforce a culture of gender inequality. [Handbook of Gender Research in Psychology, Joan C. Chrisler, Donald R. McCreary]
Course or coarse;
These two words not only have different meanings, but they also have different functions in the sentence. Course can be a noun, where it can refer to several concepts, or a verb, where it means to pulse or flow rapidly. Coarse is an adjective that means rough or loosely arranged. Since coarse and adjective both contain the letter A, it should be easy to reserve this word for uses where it describes a condition of a noun. If you’re using the word as a noun or a verb, choose course instead.