Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lead, or get the lead out

First, I apologize for the title of this blog. I just couldn't resist.

The thing is, lots of people get confused about the word lead in its different pronunciations and meanings.

First let's review.
Lead (pronounced leed) often is a verb, present tense, as in Lead us out of the maze.
Lead (pronounced leed) can be a noun, as in, Take the lead since you know the route.
Led (pronounced led) will be a verb, past tense, as in I led them out of the maze last night.
Lead (pronouced led) can be a noun referring to a heavy metal, as in That table is as heavy as lead.

Most errors I've seen result from people thinking the past tense led should be spelled lead.

Or they know the difference but just don't realize they've typed the wrong word.

In any case, a quick review of one's writing will help avoid this error.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Loosen up, but not too loose!

I always wonder what causes trends in language, trends that take a simple word and change it from correct usage to incorrect. This happens more often than you might think, and one such trend I've noticed with increasing frequency of late is the use of loose when the meaning people intend to convey is lose.

The pronunciation is different, of course, as well as the spelling, so what makes it difficult to differentiate between loose (loos) and lose (looz)? What's so hard about a sentence such as "If you play loose and easy with your money, you can lose your fortune overnight"?

The differences seem clear to me. However, if you're having difficulty remembering which spelling you should use, try thinking "loose as a goose" and notice the similar spellings. If you know that loose rhymes with goose, you're not likely to write that you're about to loose your mind.

At least I hope you won't.