Skip to main content

Lead, Lead, or Led?

Learn the correct usage of lead, lead, and led with Brian A. Klems, and become an expert on this type of grammar.

Q: What's the difference between "lead" and "led"?—Jake S.

Lead, Lead, or Led?

A: "Lead" has two specific meanings. As a noun, lead (pronounced like "bread") is a metallic element. It's labeled on the periodic table as "Pb" and sometimes found in really old paint. The U.S. government banned lead paint in 1978. Lead pencils aren't actually made out of lead; they are made out of graphite. (A grammar example and a science lesson all in one!) So whenever the word is used as a noun, it's always spelled l-e-a-d.

(Click here to view our 12 most popular grammar posts.)

Used as a verb, "lead" (pronounced like greed) means "to guide or direct." I always try to lead my children by example. Brian A. Klems leads in the voting for Best-Looking Male Grammar Expert. While I can't confirm the validity of the second example statement, I can confirm that "lead" is used properly.

"Led" comes into play as the past tense of the verb "lead." Derek Jeter led the New York Yankees to a World Series victory. I led you to the correct answer of this grammatical conundrum. If you can substitute the words "guided" or "directed" into the sentence, your correct choice is "led."

Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

    Click to continue.

    10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

    10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

    From planning ahead to staying late, Alison Hill shares 10 tips for journalists while covering events as a freelancer.

    From Script

    Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

    In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.

    Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

    Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

    Author Lora Senf discusses how one chilling text message led her to writing her new middle grade horror novel, The Clackity.

    Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

    Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

    Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

    writer's digest wd presents

    WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

    This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

    Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

    Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

    Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

    What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

    What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

    You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

    5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

    5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

    Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

    Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

    Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

    The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.