Lead != Led

Ok, I can’t take this one anymore.  Even normally solid writers are getting this one wrong all over the place, and I’m starting to feel like I’m the only person left who knows it.  I think people get this one wrong more often than they get it right — more often than there/their/they’re, or who/whom, or even its/it’s.  So here it is:

The past tense and past participle of lead (pronounced l-ee-d), meaning “to walk in front of, or be in charge of”, is led.  L-E-D.  Today I will lead the horse to water; yesterday I led him to water, before that I had led him to water.  So when I read, as I just did, “the investigation has lead to,” it makes my teeth hurt.  It’s “has led.”

I guess the problem is that led is pronounced the same as the metal lead: l-eh-d.  So people say it with a short E in their mind, and type it like the metal.  That seems odd, though, because isn’t the verb a lot more common than the noun?  If we’re going to get it wrong, it seems like we should get it wrong the other way, spelling the metal as led.  Maybe it’s more because of read, read, read, which changes to a short E while keeping the same spelling.  Yeah, that seems more likely.

Whatever the reason, it is possible to get it right.  The old 6th-grade English book I use for teaching expects kids that age to get it right, so I think the rest of us can if we try.

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5 thoughts on “Lead != Led

  1. I am a speech language pathologist. Before that I was an English teacher. I share your pain.

    Will you be posting more here? Let me know if/when you have it up and running and I’ll add you to my blogroll.

  2. A lot of these stupid mess-ups are because of the ubiquity of iphones. I’m guilty of that.

    My writing is so much better when I am using my desktop computer because the keyboard is actually there. And the autocorrect is mind-numbingly irritating. Why it changes my name from “Matt” to “Martha” every time I use the gd thing I have no idea.

  3. It drives me mad too. Especially relevant on my site about male-LED relationships. Then there is the “reigns” instead of “reins” — and let’s not even think about the “dominate” instead of “dominant”. Too horrible.

  4. These sorts of spelling issues sometimes make me feel I shall loose my mind….

    Or I become so angry, I wish to set lose the the dogs of war…

    Spell-czech is overrated…otto-correct likewise.

  5. Pingback: On the gender/sex lexical debate. | Sunshine Mary

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