A Usage PSA

OK, I can’t hold it in anymore.  The time has come for a public service announcement regarding some alarming usage problems I see in the blogosphere.

The past tense of the verb lead is led, not lead.

I know why you’re confused.  The past tense of read is read, so it is natural to assume that the word lead, which looks so much like read, must work the same way.

Here’s a handy guide:

If I lead, will you follow?

I led the team to victory.

Lead, pronounced like led, refers only to the heavy metal, making the name for the band Led Zeppelin an interesting pun, I suppose.  For example: That idea will go over like a lead balloon.

That is all, but I reserve the right to interrupt this blog for future PSA’s should they be necessary.

8 thoughts on “A Usage PSA”

  1. Really? I've never noticed the lead/led problem before. But I do see a lot of it's for its, and one of my favorite peeves is what school districts all over the country write on their salary schedules:

    "Up to 10 years service credit given…"

    No, no, no!

    "Up to 10 years' service credit given…"

    But nobody seems to like the poor apostrophe anymore. (Sigh.)

  2. My favorite is a school where I used to work. The sign on the door said Teacher's Lounge. I thought it was so nice of that one particular teacher, whoever he/she was, to let all of use the teacher's lounge. And yes, this was at a school.

  3. CTG: You are technically right, but I wonder if that one isn't in the process of change due to preferred usage. For example, I would argue that though I cling to "all right" with both arms, "alright" is becoming standard usage all over the place. In fact, the dictionary I have (Merriam-Webster's) says that it is considered incorrect by some critics (emphasis mine), but that it has its users and defenders.

    Master's is in my dictionary: "a master's degree."

    You and I, CTG, shall cling to the proper use of the apostrophe together.

    And Bud, thanks. I live to serve. There's a market for this sort of thing, you know. If there weren't, <a href-"http://grammar.quickandddirtytips.com/&quot; rel="nofollow">Grammar Girl's podcast wouldn't be so popular.

  4. Not really in the same category, but I hate the trend to use weighty prose to seem more intelligent. The problem's been around a long time, I know, but you won't believe how much of this I saw when I was in the military. How's this for a sign: Upon entrance to this faclitity, head gear must be removed." Not only did they misspell facility, all the stupid sign meant was "take off your hat". These signs were posted all over the base. When it was pointed out to the commander that the sign needed to be re-done, he just shrugged. I wa back at that base seven years later and the stupid sign was still up. Can we just say what we mean and say it right (ah, correctly)?

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