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.
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.
There are two ways to explain and relay something a person said: direct speech and indirect speech. One quotes speech directly, using the exact words, and the other rephrases what was said.
If you are fluent in English, you probably already use these types of speech without realizing it. But now you know what they’re called. Huzzah!
Direct speech restates what a person said previously using their exact words, which go inside quotation marks.
- She said, “I ate the last pickle.”
- “Go to the store to get more pickles,” Sally told me.
- Yesterday, Sally’s sister asked, “Will you save a pickle for Sally so she doesn’t get angry?”
Indirect speech does not use the exact words spoken. Instead, it rephrases what someone said previously.
- She said Sally told her not to eat the last pickle.
- I told Sally yesterday that I wanted to eat the last pickle.
- I heard Sally ask for another jar of pickles.
Notice that indirect speech often uses the verbs say and tell (and said and told in the past tense).
Here are examples of direct and indirect speech when used as a statement, command, and question.
||“I like jazz music,” Nancy said.
||I heard that Nancy likes jazz music.
||“You must get out of bed right now!” her mom said.
||Her mom told her to get out of bed right now.
||“Where am I?” Cindy asked me.
||Cindy asked me where she was.
Quiz: State whether each sentence is either direct or indirect speech.
- Katie said she named her dog Ferdinand.
- I told her she needs to teach the dog to stop barking.
- “Ferdinand is cute, but she won’t stop barking!” I said to her.
- “Why can’t you get her to be quiet?” I asked.
- I heard Katie said she gave up teaching the dog to stop barking.
Answers: 1. Indirect; 2. Indirect; 3. Direct; 4. Direct; 5. Indirect
Erin Servais is a book editor and coach of author-entrepreneurs, helping writers through every stage of book creation and after. To learn how she can help you with your next project, check out Dot and Dash LLC or email her at Erin@dotanddashllc.com.
I got the idea for today’s post from the podcast A Way With Words. I’m super in love with this show, and I recommend it for everyone who is interested in English word origins and other language topics.
Native English speakers have ideas about how languages they do not speak sound. There are certain noises we can string together that imitate our idea of another language—noises that if we were to make to a speaker of that language would sound like gibberish.
Here’s a video of one English speaker speaking what he thinks sounds like several foreign languages:
Ever wonder how English sounds to people who don’t speak it?
Youtube has a treasure trove of videos showing just this: English-sounding gibberish. Here’s a collection for you to enjoy.
This is a song made for Italian TV in which the singer sings entirely in sounds he interprets as sounding like English. (Also note the awesome background dancers!)
Here is a song in “fake” English from an Argentinian band:
Skwerl is a short film that plays with the same idea. In it, a couple speaks in “fake” English. One aspect I like about it is that even though they are not saying real words, the audience can still understand the emotions and ideas portrayed.
Here are more examples of foreign language speakers’ interpretation of English: