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Chapter 10 - “Lead” vs. “Led”

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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“Yesterday, they lead us astray.”

Here’s a quickie. Read on to learn that led is the correct word.

Lead vs. Led: An Overview

Many writers think that the word lead is pronounced to rhyme with red and is used as the past tense or past participle of the verb lead (pronounced leed). They are wrong.

The word lead is not the past tense of lead. It is a gross mistake to say:

Yesterday, he lead the parade.

Led Is Correct

Instead, the word is properly spelled led, and it serves both roles: past tense and past participle.

Thus, in the past tense:

Yesterday, he led the parade.

Or in the perfect tenses, we use the past participle led to produce:

He has led the parade before. He told us that he had led the parade before. He will have led the parade several times before June.

Or in the passive voice, we use the past participle led to produce:

The parade was led by John.

Origin of the Mistake

The mistake probably comes from the word read where read (pronounced red) is the past tense and past participle of read (pronounced reed).

Whatever the source of the mistake, it’s time to get rid of using lead when you’re trying to say led.


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Chapter 10 - “Lead” vs. “Led”

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Have a discussion about this article with the community:

  • Pat Gibbs
    Pat Gibbs
    What about 'The parade will be......... by the Mayor'. Lead or led?
    LikeReply 34 years ago
    • Ernesto Santana
      Ernesto Santana
      LikeReply 44 years ago
  • Keith Merrick
    Keith Merrick
    It may be a gross mistake to WRITE, 'Yesterday, he lead the parade' but not to SAY it. After all, no one would ever know how the speaker imagined the word was spelt.
    LikeReply 34 years ago
  • Joel Bastedo
    Joel Bastedo
    Another contributor to the confusion, I'm sure, is that the element Pb is spelled lead and pronounced led.
    LikeReply 75 years ago


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