Course or Coarse?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Course" and "Coarse"?

"Course" and "coarse" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms).

Coarse. "Course" means rough or crude. For example:
  • This sand is too coarse for the cement mix.
  • There are children present. Stop being so coarse!
Course. "Course" has three common meanings:
  • (1) A series of educational lessons. For example:
    • I have signed up for an online French course.
  • (2) Part of a meal. For example:
    • I can't eat nuts, so I will skip the third course.
  • (3) A direction. For example:
    • That's an odd course to take.
    There are more meanings for "course" below.
    coarse or course?
    The word "course" is far more common than "coarse." This flow diagram checks that you don't need "coarse" before advising you to use "course."

    More about "Coarse" and "Course"

    The words "coarse" and "course" sound identical, but their meanings are very different. The most common query regarding "course" and "coarse" relates to meals. Meals are made up of courses not coarses. For example:
    • a three-course meal


    The adjective "coarse" means rough, crude, of low quality, or not fine in texture. For example:
    • The sand is coarse.
    • (The sand is not fine, i.e., gritty.)
    • She has coarse manners.
    • (Her manners are crude or rough.)
    • These are coarse fish.
    • (This refers to freshwater fish like perch. If it helps, think of them as not as refined as trout or salmon, which are classified as game fish.)


    The word "course" has many meanings. It can be an adjective, a noun, or a verb. Listed below are the nine meanings of "course":

    (1) Education delivered in a series of lessons
    • I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia. (Actor Woody Allen)
    • English course
    (2) The students who attend the education
    • You have been an excellent course.
    (3) A direction
    • A southerly course
    • The river changed course.
    (4) A series of events
    • The government took an unexpected course.
    • A course of action
    (5) To move (of liquids and ships)
    • The German ships coursed the Baltic.
    • The stream coursed through the peat bog.
    (6) Part of a meal
    • We're having a three-course meal. The first course is white bait or mussels.
    (7) To hunt with dogs
    • To course after hares.
    (8) Naturally
    • of course
    (9) Area of land (or water) for sport
    • Golf course
    • Skiing course

    Ready for the Test?

    Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

    • Do you disagree with something on this page?
    • Did you spot a typo?

    Find Us Quicker!

    • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
    Next lesson >

    See Also

    adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? cannot or can not? who's or whose? What are adjectives? lasagna or lasagne? List of easily confused words

    Page URL