What is the past tense of “lead”?

 

the past tense of the verb lead is led

One of the most common errors I see as a copy editor is when people write the verb lead in the past tense incorrectly. It gets confusing because the past tense of lead is led, and led is pronounced the same way as the noun lead (the metal). And so people end up writing lead instead of led for the verb’s past tense.

Are you confused yet? Let me show you how you can remember the difference.

In the past tense, the verb lead sounds exactly like the verb bleed, just without the B. Bleed becomes bled, and lead becomes led.

Examples
He bled on his new shirt.
He led the race.

He cut himself shaving and bled.
He led the senator’s campaign.

Remember: If you find yourself questioning your spelling of lead in the past tense, recall that it’s the same as bleed in the past tense. Bleed becomes bled, and lead becomes led.

Erin Servais is a book editor and author coach who helps authors at all stages of the writing process. If you have finished your book, or you are struggling to finish your book, get in touch to learn how she can help you. You can check out her website or email her at Erin@dotanddashllc.com.

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