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Lead and Led
Lead and led are two words that can be very confusing.
She lead the horse to the stall.
She led the horse to the stall.
Which one of the above sentences is correct? If you aren't sure, maybe that will change by the time you are done reading this article.
The fact that I have seen the words used the wrong way in books, in newspapers, on the internet, and even on school bulletin boards hasn't helped any. After you see a word used wrong so many times in so many different places, it is almost inevitable that you will start messing up and using it wrong, too. But if you knew how to use the word properly in the first place, you most likely will have at least a twinge of doubt about it in your mind when you see it used the wrong way. That is when you need to pull out your dictionary.
Lead can be a noun, a verb, or an adjective. Led is always a verb; it is the simple past tense and past participle form of lead. Never would I get the noun or adjective form of lead confused with led. I would confuse the verb forms.
As a noun, lead (pronounced with a long e) can mean the first place. If you are running a race, and you are in the foremost position, then you are in the lead.
Richard took the lead in the marathon.
A dog's leash can be called a lead.
Allowing Precious to run with me without her lead on was a painful mistake.
A lead is a tip or piece of information that will direct or guide. A reporter always likes to find a good lead.
The reporter hoped the excellent lead would give her a fantastic story.
When pronounced with a short e, lead is a metal. Bullets are commonly called lead. And lead is what makes it possible to write with a pencil.
Heather pressed down on the paper so hard with her pencil that she broke its lead.
As an adjective, lead (pronounced with a long e) means the most important. You could have a lead runner or a lead story. The lead role in a play is coveted by those in acting.
The team's lead runner sprained his ankle while walking to the mailbox.
If you pronounce the adjective form of lead with a short e, it means made of or containing lead.
The lead pipe sprung a leak.
As a verb, lead (pronounced with a long e) means to show the way, to guide in directions or opinion, or to bring.
The pirate's hostage was asked to lead the way to the treasure.
Led (pronounced with a short e) is always a verb. It is the past tense of lead.
The lead singer of the group was led backstage.
If you have ever been confused about whether to use lead or led, it is my hope that you are no longer confused. I now have a much clearer understanding of when to use led and when to use lead.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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