Misused Words

Lead and Led

Lead can be used as a verb or a noun; hence the confusion in usage. As a noun lead is pronounced with a long e; as a verb it is pronounced with a short e. You have to depend on the context of the sentence to know how to pronounce the word.
As a verb, lead is used in the present or future tense, whereas led is used in the past tense. As a noun, lead is a metal, and it pronounces the same as led.

The captain will lead the members of his team to victory. (verb)
Lead is a metal that is quite heavy. (noun)

Led is a verb that is used in the past tense.

Yesterday the captain led the members of his team to victory.

Note: To understand this verb, you need to know the principal parts of the verb.

The principal parts of the verb lead

Present tense Present participle Past tense Past participle
lead (verb) leading led led
I lead the group now. I am leading the group now. I led the group yesterday. I had led the group last week.
Practice

Choose the correct answer for each of the two practice sentences below by clicking on the correct answer.

(1) While we are on this trip, we want John to (lead, led) the way.

(2) While we were on this trip, John (lead, led) the way.

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