Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writing Wednesday: Led versus lead

The notorious lead pipe (and my least favorite weapon in Clue).

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I've seen a few people struggle with using lead and led at work lately and thought it might be helpful to post something here in case you're also confused. Check out the definitions below:

  • Lead: This is a verb meaning "to guide" and is the present tense of the word. Example: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  • Lead: A grey metal once used in pencils and household paint. Example: Be careful when stripping the walls of your home; lead-based paint can be toxic.
  • Led: The past tense of the word lead. Example: I led a team of 20 writers when I worked at The New York Times.

Seems simple, right? I think people get confused when they read lead (the verb) as lead (the metal) and don't think before using it as the past tense. Always use led, unless you're writing in the present tense or are, in fact, talking about a hazardous metal in paint chips — which is not usually the case.

Do lead and led trip you up? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. I'm heading on a road trip later this week for my brother's high school graduation, so I'm taking a short break. See you next week!


  1. I don't know if this word trips me up (because I'm not sure how often I use it) but the tip and reminder is GREATLY appreciated. Also, to answer your question, I have heard of Amy's Baking Company and have followed their story pretty closely. But I haven't been there. If I ever go, I'll try to write about it without being yelled at.


Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts! I love reading them.