Course and Coarse

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between "course" and "coarse"?

"Coarse" means rough or crude.
"Course" most commonly means:
  • A series of educational lessons (e.g., a French course).
  • A direction (e.g., 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."

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

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game)

Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...


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 meanings of course:

Education delivered in a series of lessons
  • I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia. (Woody Allen)
  • English course
Also, the students who attend
  • You have been an excellent course.
A direction
  • A southerly course
  • The river changed course.
A series of events
  • The government took an unexpected course.
  • A course of action
To move (of liquids and ships)
  • The German ships coursed the Baltic.
  • The stream coursed through the peat bog.
Part of a meal
  • We're having a three-course meal. The first course is white bait or mussels.
To hunt with dogs
  • To course after hares.
  • of course
Area of land (or water) for sport
  • Golf course
  • Skiing course
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? 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? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words