Using Led vs Lead

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
Led and lead can be very confusing. They can function as different parts of speech but sometimes sound alike. In this lesson, you will learn the correct pronunciation and usage of these confusing words.


As Superman led the rescued people off the sinking ship, Lex Luther used his powerful Kryptonite ray on his archenemy! Weak and unable to fly, Superman sank below the waves. Miraculously, Superman came to rest on the ocean floor behind an old, sunken metal ship lined with lead. Protected by the lead wall against the Kryptonite ray, Superman was able to regather his strength, defeat Lex Luther and take the lead as a superhero!

Led (rhymes with head), lead (rhymes with seed) and lead (also rhymes with head) can be confusing words. Let's look at examples of when to use them correctly.


Led (rhymes with head) functions as the past tense verb, an action, of lead (rhymes with seed). In the past tense form, a verb shows an action that is completed or that happened in the past. Led means to guide or to be the first.

  • She led the group to safety after the earthquake. (the action is finished: she guided the group)
  • He led the class on First Aid last Thursday. (he was the teacher of the class)
  • Franklin Roosevelt led the United States as President during much of World War II. (Franklin Roosevelt guided the country during the war)


Lead can function as a verb, a noun (a person, place or thing), or an adjective (a word that describes a noun). In addition, it can be pronounced so that it rhymes with head or seed, depending upon how it is functioning in the sentence. Let's take a look at the many ways lead can be used.

Lead As A Verb

Lead (rhymes with seed) functions as a verb which means to be first or to guide.

  • Mary will lead the program. (Mary will be in charge in the program)
  • If you want to lead the team, you will have to practice more. (be in charge or give instruction)
  • In business, it is sometimes better to lead than to follow. (be the first)

A mother duck will usually lead ducklings to food and safety.

Lead As A Noun

Lead (rhymes with head) can function as a noun. It means a soft metal. Lead (rhymes with seed) can also be information or a clue.

Lead As A Metal Noun

  • Even though the earliest pencils were made with lead, today we use much safer graphite. (soft metal used for writing).
  • In the early 20th century, it was discovered that using lead in consumer products could cause health problems. (soft metal)

Lead was one the first metals used by humans.

Lead As Informational Noun

  • We hope to have a good lead on finding a new apartment when we move. (advice or a tip about information)

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