Sunday, January 4, 2009

You can lead a horse to water but cannot make an intern think

What's the most common homonym error? I don't have stats on it, but judging from what I read in print and see on TV it's probably using lead rather than led when writing the past tense of the verb lead.

Ex.: Stephane Dion led (not lead) his party to defeat.

One place you will often see it is in the crawler at the bottom of the screen on newscasts (I an example on CBC Newsworld right now). Based on the number of mistakes you see in those little news tidbits, I think they must have half-asleep interns at the switch.

It's an easy enough error to make when in a rush -- the heavy metal lead is pronounced the same as led (though one never sees a Led Zeppelin fan spelling the band's name wrong) -- but during a quick self-proofing one should be able to catch the error.

Just remember:

lead (led): a heavy metal
lead (lēd): show the way (present tense)
led (led): showed the way (past tense)

1 comment:

  1. Your blog has got to be one of the most interesting ones that I've come across. I've forwarded the link to quite a few people. I'll put aside the fact that what you write makes me fearful of typing anything again.;)