Led or Lead?

There’s often confusion regarding the past tense of the verb lead. The correct past tense is led, not lead. A reason for this confusion could be that read, a similar verb, has a past tense that’s spelled the same as the infinitive. However, that’s not the same case with lead.

  • The correct spelling of the past tense of lead is led.
  • A frequent misspelling of the past tense of lead is lead.

The Definition of Led

The past tense of the verb lead is led.

  • Correct: She led the party through the desert.
  • Incorrect: She lead the party through the desert.
  • Correct: The mistake led to an amazing discovery.
  • Incorrect: The mistake lead to an amazing discovery. 
  • Correct: He led us to believe we were welcome guests.
  • Incorrect: He lead us to believe we were welcome guests. 

Whenever you see the word led written in all capital letters (LED), it’s an acronym. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, which, as you may have guessed, is a diode that emits light.

Graphic explaining the difference between the verb to lead (past tense: led), a lead pencil and LED lights

What Does Lead Mean?

Lead is also a type of metal. However, when referring to the metal, the word lead is pronounced the same as led. This can definitely add to the confusion!

  • Her arms felt heavy, as if they were made from lead.
  • Everyone should avoid getting lead poisoning.
  • The lead in this pencil breaks too easily. (The core of a pencil is often called lead, although it’s actually graphite.)


  • He led his beloved team out to the field in front of millions of fans.
  • The professor led the field research team.
  • The coach led the fightback.
  • The team led by 20 points.
  • The general led the troops through the treacherous forrest for a surprise attack at dawn.


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By Jessica Allen

Jessica is a full-time freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish.

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