(1) The members of the winning team were given gold medals.
The sentence above means that the members of the team that had won were given gold medals. They were not in the process of winning but they had already won. You never say "the won team".

(2) The members of the lost team were not given gold medals.
The sentence above means that the team that had lost were not given gold medals. You can also say, "the lost team".

(3) The members of the losing team were being encouraged by the cheer.
The losing team means the team that was losing. They were in the process of losing, but had not lost yet.

My question:
Why can "lose" be used both as a past participle and a present participle as adjectives when "win" seems to work only as a present participle when used as an adjective?

Put more simply, why can we say "the lost team" but not "the won team"?

Thank you always.


Last edited {1}
Original Post
There is no such expression as "the lost team" (unless their bus took a wrong turn and they didn't show up for the game).

The team that has won the game is the winning team. As Apple says, the game is over, but the adjective is winning.

The team that has lost the game is the losing team. The game is over, but the adjective is losing, not lost.

Two expressions that you may have heard are "a losing cause" and "a lost cause." These illustrate the usual difference in aspect between the two participial adjectives losing and lost:

Her civic group is working hard to save the old theater from demolition. Some think the effort will eventually succeed, others consider it a losing cause (or a lost cause, if they're sure it's completely and finally lost).

Don't keep hoping that he'll call. It's a lost cause; you have to realize that he's out of your life.

Marilyn Martin
I see. "the lost team" is grammatically correct in a certain situation, but you still can not say "the won team", whatever the situation is.

Why is this?

The participial adjective "lost" has more than one meaning. I should have made it clear that in my comment about "taking a wrong turn" the word "lost" had nothing to do with the idea of losing a game. If you get lost going somewhere you don't know where you are.

The verb "to win" does not have a past participial adjective form in any context. The word "won" is only a past participle, not an adjective.

Marilyn Martin

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