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Course vs. Coarse – Pick the Correct Word

Course vs. Coarse – Pick the Correct Word

In this article, we are dealing with a set of English homophones, a pair of words that sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things.

It can be challenging to determine whether your writing calls for coarse or course, especially since they differ by just a single letter.

Luckily, this article will help you sort it out.

Short and Sweet: Course vs. Coarse

Not only do these words have different meanings, but they are also different parts of speech.

  • Course is a noun. A course is a route or direction taken, also an academic class.
  • Coarse is an adjective. A course blanket is rough to the touch.

Continue reading to see a helpful way to remember when to use course or coarse in the future.

What Does Course Mean?

Meaning of Course: Course is a noun and has a few different meanings.

Course — path. Most prominently, course means “a way to proceed,” whether physically or conceptually. A person or item can literally proceed along a course, or route. Course is also a progression of events happening in the expected order.

  • The storm threw the ship off its course, and it was lost at sea for several days.
  • I avoid taking medication if I can because I prefer to let the illness run its course.

Course — class. In school, particularly in college, a class can be called a course.

  • This year, I’m taking an advanced course in Algebra.

Course — meal. Lastly, course is sometimes used to mean parts of a large meal, which are served one at a time. You might have a “six-course meal,” with a salad for the “first course,” and meat for the “main course.”

  • If the guests are finished with their soup, the servers are ready to bring out the next course.

You’ve probably heard or used the phrase “of course.” What does course mean in that context? Course in this phrase uses the first meaning of a procedure to convey that something will happen “as expected.”

However, this phrase is used so much it has taken on its own meaning. “Of course” is used conversationally to mean “without a doubt” or “yes, absolutely.”

What Does Coarse Mean?

Meaning of Coarse: Coarse is an adjective that means “rough” or “not smooth.” It is also the antonym of “fine,” as in “finely ground.” Coarse describes an item’s texture.

  • I like to wear smooth, silky clothing. Other cloth is too coarse against my skin.
  • I don’t like touching burlap because it is too scratchy and

The above examples demonstrate coarse when it means “rough” and usually refers to fabric.

  • When I grind my own coffee, it often comes out too coarse.
  • Do you need fine or coarse sandpaper?

These examples demonstrate the usage of coarse to mean to opposite of “fine.” When grinding something up into small pieces, the bigger the pieces are, the more coarse the grind. The smaller the pieces, the more fine it is.

Coarse coffee grounds are larger pieces. Likewise, coarse sandpaper has large bumps on it for sanding something pretty rough. Fine sandpaper has small bumps and is used on smaller details for a smooth finish.

Coarse vs. Course: How to Remember the Difference

Coarse is spelled the same way as hoarse. When someone’s voice is hoarse, it sounds harsh, and their throat feels rough and scratchy, just like the meaning of coarse.

Recap: When to Use Course and Coarse

Course and coarse are pronounced the same way, but they are different words with distinct definitions and uses.

  • Course is a noun with many meanings, most often a route or process.
  • Course can also mean a class or one part of a multi-part meal.
  • Coarse means rough, and it is the opposite of smooth or fine.


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