Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lead me not into . . .

I can guarantee that before the end of this week – and it's almost here – I will, once again, see some variation on this: "He lead her down the garden path to show her the newly planted marigolds."

You're right. It should be, "He led her down . . ."

It seems so easy and yet it's such a commonly made error. Perhaps it's understandable.

"Led" is the past tense of the verb "to lead" – pronounced "leed." "Lead" is a heavy metal, pronounced "led." Confused yet?

Look at the cousin of "to lead" (pronounced leed) – "to read" (pronounced reed). In this case, we're going to say, "She read [pronounced red] him his rights and led [not lead] him off to jail."

It's an odd little mistake because people often know it's a mistake, even as they're writing it. I have very recently seen, in informal writing, "I know I'm going to be lead in the wrong direction – hey, is that right or should it be 'led'?"

Another mistake in the same general ballpark – and of this one, I'm not nearly so forgiving – is: "Don't loose hope. Everything will be fine."

Never mind. If you can keep your head while all about you are loosing theirs . . .

Got it? Lose? Loose? They're not spelled or pronounced alike! No excuse!

Thus endeth the lesson.