The past tense (and past participle) of the verb lead is led. Lead is often used (incorrectly) as the past tense, perhaps because the noun lead is pronounced the same way as the verb led—except when it’s not! Confused yet? Read on!
lead (noun, pronounced “led”)
Exposure to lead can be very harmful to young children.
The core of a “lead” pencil does not contain lead—but the painted wood might!*
Many lead pipes are being replaced with copper.
lead (noun, pronounced “leed”)
“The boss wants you to take the lead on this project.”
“Mary got the lead in the school play.”
Related: lead (adjective, pronounced “leed”)
“Barry is the lead singer of the Phobias.”
“The lead story in today’s paper will be of interest to aspiring screenwriters.”
lead (verb, pronounced “leed”)
“Mark will lead the discussion on Wednesday.”
“Lead the way!”
“Don’t lead me on.”
led (past tense and past participle of the verb to lead)
The suspect led investigators to the body.
“One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had a ring on my finger.”
“She’s been led astray.”
“Sharon has led this company for twenty years.”
Mistakes are easily made when we are in a hurry. For important matters, take time to proofread your work.
An investigation is underway to uncover the systems malfunctions that lead to this disaster. X
* See “Lead in Pencils: Safety Information and Facts,” https://pencils.com/lead-in-pencils-2/