Teaching English, Literature, and Cultural Awareness.

Heteronyms, Homonyms, Homophones

Lead vs Lead vs Led – Commonly Confused Homonyms

What is the Difference?

Lead and Lead are heteronyms, which means they are spelled the same, but pronounced differently and have different meanings.  To help you keep them separate, I’m going to include a pronunciation next to each type.

Lead (pronounced LED) is referring to the element on the periodic table which is actually a silver metal. This type of “lead” is an object and is pronounced the same whether it is the past, present, or future.

Lead (pronounced LEED) means to guide others in a direction.  This type of “lead” is an action word used in the present and future tenses.

Led (pronounced LED) is the past tense of having guided others in a direction. This is a past action.

The first type of “Lead” (pronounced LED and referring to the metal) is a homophone with “Led” (pronounced LED and acting as the past tense for the 2nd type of lead that is an action).


Lead (pronounced LED)

“Many people think that pencils are filled with lead but they are actually filled with graphite.”

“Lead has the chemical symbol ‘Pb’ because in Latin it was called ‘plumbum’ to refer to the lead water pipes used in the cities and for the Roman baths. This is also where the word plumbing comes from.”

Lead (pronounced LEED)

“I’ve never been there before, will you lead the way?”

“Someone has to lead us, will you be our new leader?”

Led (pronounced LED)

“He led the football team to victory last night.”

“She led her horse into the barn before the rain started.”