Led vs. Lead

Here’s a homonym that gives people a lot of trouble.

The verb “to lead” (pronounced “leed”) means to guide or to go first.

The past tense of this word is “led.”

Example:

I will lead the group into the cave tomorrow.

Yesterday I led the group into the cave.

The problem arises because “lead” (pronounced “led”) is spelled the same as the verb “to lead.”

When pronounced with a short “e” sound, the word “lead” means the chemical element Lead

(Pb, or plumbum in Latin), a heavy metal that causes lead poisoning because it is a neurotoxin.

That is why they don’t make regular leaded gasoline any longer – it’s all unleaded these days, even “regular.”

Here’s how we shall remember this:

Lead that rhymes with deed means the boy’s in charge.

Lead that rhymes with dead means a poison at large.

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