Lead vs. Led

June 7, 2017


Recently, I've seen some confusion over the words 'lead' and 'led.' Confusingly, the first spelling has multiple pronunciations, which is what I think is causing the problem.

Let's take a look:



Pronunciation: /lēd/ 

rhymes with: weed, feed, seed, bead

Verb: 3rd person present tense meaning

  • to guide, command, or be in charge, [This CEO will lead our company into the next year.]

  • cause, [These clues lead me to believe that it was an accident.]

  • or have a certain way of being​ [You can't lead a true life without suffering. (Mahatma Ghandi)]


  • being an example or in a place ahead of others, [The red team is in the lead with five points.]

  • a leash for pets, [Dogs should be kept on a lead.]

  • primary role in a movie [Chris Pine played the lead as Captain Kirk.]


Pronunciation: /led/

rhymes with: bed, fed, said, wed


  • a metal that's the 82nd element on the periodic table, abbreviation Pb

  • the graphite in pencils



Pronunciation: /led/

rhymes with: bed, fed, said, wed

Verb: past tense of lead [Our CEO led us to the best sales quarter in company history.]



So, you see 'lead' and 'led' are actually sometimes just different conjugations of the same verb. Lead is the present tense, led is the past tense. 

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