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Pled versus pleaded

Anyone notice the banishment of “pled” about 5 years or so ago? The newspapers used to say “The defendant pled not guilty.” Suddenly, everything became “pleaded.” I contend that this is an improper imposition of some kind of twisted “grammar correctness,” except it is incorrect. “Pled” is a less emotional word than “pleaded”. I plead when I am begging for something. Unless the defendant is on his knees weeping, he is not pleading, he is entering a plea. In the past tense, he pled, not pleaded. What do you think?

  • July 24, 2009
  • Posted by stan
  • Filed in Usage

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I don't agree that "pled" is less emotional than "pleaded." I think they carry equal "emotional" weight, if any. Only context can increase or decrease the emotional impact of either, as in your on-his-knees example.

In the context of legal defense, Merriam-Webster defines "plea" as:

(1) : a defendant's answer to a plaintiff's declaration in common-law practice
(2) : an accused person's answer to a charge or indictment in criminal practice

To plead, in this sense, is simply to enter a plea. No begging is implied. Regarding the past tense of "plead," Bryan A. Garner, in his excellent A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, has the following to say:

"Traditionally speaking, 'pleaded' is the best past-tense and past participle form."


"'Pled,' dating from the 16th century, is nearly obsolete in British English, except as a dialectical word. Nor is it considered quite standard in American English, though it is a common variant in legal usage."

That the word "pled" has fallen out of favor is unlikely part of some “grammar correctness” putsch. It seems far more likely that American news organizations are simply adapting to the global marketplace by adopting the more widely accepted usage.

douglas.bryant August 11, 2009, 10:17pm

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@Douglas Bryant - I find it disheartening and sad that our news organizations feel the need to "adapt to the global marketplace" instead of using correct grammar and setting a higher standard. I actually get goosebumps when I hear someone say "that's so fun!" as our local news anchor did recently.

I remember, when I was a child, even Ralph Cramden on the Honeymooners used correct English - if he didn't, Alice corrected him. People used to strive to speak well and properly. That isn't the case anymore.

Our youth cannot spell or write and they certainly cannot speak properly. Our media is very much to blame for this as they "adapt" instead of lead the way. It is yet another black mark against our school systems in the US that these university graduates (and they almost always are if they are practicing journalists) have managed to obtain a degree without first obtaining an education.

A rerun of a foolish sitcom was on last night and the running gag of the show was the majority of the friends making fun of one whenever he spoke well, quoted literature, or referenced something other than drinking beer, chasing women, and "robot wrestling." I turned off the sitcom. If, however, I turn off everything that offends me in the same manner, I will be left with nothing but the History Channel.

lloyola August 24, 2010, 2:37pm

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I noticed this irritating change (pled to pleaded) around the time of OJ, the Menendez Brothers, and the advent of "Court TV". It seems to have been a conspiracy in the media to all shift usage at once. This irritates me almost as much as “pre-owned”.

Okay, a language is living and breathing (and wheezing and coughing) entity. I get that. But speaking for myself, I will *never* accept “pleaded” in any context.

Of course, I must disclose that I grew up with, and still use an old English form that can be demonstrated by the words “gotten” and “boughten”. I also am recognized (derided?) for having a penchant for creating new words and idiomatic phrases which should exist but that do not. So take my pled/pleaded song and dance with a shaker of salt.

letitbedissected January 11, 2011, 8:04pm

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Of course the problem is that is is grammatically a real puzzle:

The question popularly asked in court is "How do you plea?"
The answer is "I plead" innocent or guilty (at least in most cases.)

The proper form of past tense for "plea" would certainly be "pled" not "pleaed". If one considers the root to be "plea", then "pleaded" is some oddly redundant construction. If you consider "plead" to be the root, then "pleaded" may be correct.

Of course, the wrench in the works is that "plea" is a noun, the verb is "plead." While we have a general tendency to conjugate nouns (after all, I googled my way here), that doesn't make it correct.

However, when we look at similar verbs, we quickly see that the past tense of read is "read" (pronounced "red") and the past tense of "lead" is "led." If you add to that meet/met, feed/fed, and the like, it is hard to see any undue confusion here. Leaving the past tense of "plead" as "pled" directly conforms to the pattern of at least one other common verb, thereby following the rule, not creating yet another exception.

Then again, we could go with he rules of "tread" which is arguably the closest thing: that would mean that "plea" is gone in favor of "plead", and the past tense becomes "plod"; oops, that one's taken, too.

I humbly submit "pled" should be preferred above "pleaded" rather than adopting "leaded," which is how you spell the phonetic word "leded" (see lead[2].)

Dad the Dictionary March 8, 2011, 2:06pm

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I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I started to notice this shift (i.e., pled to pleaded, etc.) a couple of years ago. I decided to Google for an "answer" and here I am. I am equally irritated with lighted versus lit. This change is inconsistent insofar as we don't use readed in place of read ... and so on. Who started this shift anyway?

Roger March 16, 2011, 3:53am

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Personally, it drives me nuts... It's become like nails on a chalkboard. Every time I hear it or read pleaded, I liken it to someone saying "I runned-ed away".

Laura April 8, 2011, 7:44am

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Here hear! I hearded the shifted use of the passeded tense, too. And I don'ted liked it then, and I still don't likeded it now. To my ears, it sounded do much like an "Ebonics" form of translation. I vote to drop it, in favor of "pled" (or maybe pronounced as such, but spelled [or spelt] "plead"). Was that well saided?

Uncle Bob April 13, 2011, 8:06pm

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'bepleden crys' is definitely more poetic therefore emotional than 'bepleaded crys'

Stanmund April 14, 2011, 2:01pm

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oops *cries*

Stanmund April 14, 2011, 2:02pm

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As one who drafts opinions daily, this is a subject of great interest.
Most (if not all) the balance of my nine-member intermediate Court of Appeals
uses "pleaded". All but myself and one other Justice have never stepped foot in a criminal courtroom as counsel to either the State or the citizen accused.
I've insisted my staff use "pled". But, let's face it, it looks weird.
I'm with Uncle Bob (April 13, 2011, 8:06pm)...and think it makes best sense to use "pled", pronounce it "pled" and spell it "plead".

Justice Jim April 26, 2011, 7:24pm

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I looked this up because I wanted to know for sure. So obviously I have only preference to fall on. I giggle at some of the comments on the redundant sound of pleaded... Like runned-ed. Everyone knows it's ranned-ed :)

Indeed plea is the root of plead, but plea is a noun, and cannot be conjugated. So I can't really 'hear' the redundancy of pleaded unless it's pronounced pled-ed, because plead (pleed) is not plea-ed. Confused yet.
I'm not saying one is right and the other is wrong, I just can't find a straight answer. It's all a matter of opinion

Sure read and read, lead and led, bleed and bled...
What about need and ned, heed and hed, seed and sed? Oh wait...

InFact May 13, 2011, 2:24pm

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Pled should be the correct form of the word used. Pleaded doesn't sound correct and until recently was not used most often. I don't care what any of the so called "professional word" people state. It's common sense, not rocket science.

harleycowgirl May 31, 2011, 1:00pm

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This has been driving me crazy for a few years, along with the phrase,"revert back to"; (how many times are you returning?) and the use of the word "a" in the place of the word "an". "An" will be the next word to disappear. I hear the media skipping over it on a regular basis as well as everyone promising to send someone a e-mail. Nails on the chalkboard for me!

LizzieB June 7, 2011, 12:22pm

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While we're at it, how about another of my pet peeves? The word "the". It's pronounced "th-uh" before a hard consonant, but pronounced "th-ee" before an open vowel sound. As in:

Thuh beginning
Thee end

When I hear "thuh end", I think I'm listening to a two year old. I really cringe when it comes from one of my kids' teachers.

porsche June 7, 2011, 4:27pm

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Can't understand who or why some of these gramatical pundits think that all of the the sudden, pleaded has replaced pled. The media happily decided that this is the correct form of the word and has since used only pleaded when speaking about crimes. This is just some random person's idea so why do we need to follow and correct a word that has been used as long as pleaded? Another word, that drives me crazy is axed instead of asked. People were simply not corrected when they fell into this lazy tongue derivative. One more thing, is the ly term that is not used anymore with verbs. Such as serious?

Jan June 15, 2011, 11:32pm

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Can't understand who or why some of these gramatical pundits think that all of the sudden, pleaded has replaced pled. The media happily decided that this is the correct form of the word and has since used only pleaded when speaking about crimes. This is just some random person's idea so why do we need to follow and correct a word that has been used as long as pleaded? Another word, that drives me crazy is axed instead of asked. People were simply not corrected when they fell into this lazy tongue derivative. One more thing, is the ly term that is not used anymore with verbs. Such as serious?

Jan June 15, 2011, 11:33pm

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Leapt vs leaped, crept vs creeped, trod vs treaded, lead vs leaded, the trend is indeed vexacious.

Mark Champney June 21, 2011, 4:43pm

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Many years ago in Canada, where I went to school, the present and past tense were both "lead." The past tense was not spelt (spelled?) "led." Also, the present and past tense were both "plead." We never heard (heared?) nor read "pleaded" or "pled."

Brock Murdoch June 22, 2011, 4:56pm

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@lloyola - How ironic that your post extolling the virtues of grammatical correctness would itself contain a grammatical error. The correct usage is "our media ARE," not "our media IS." The word "media" is the plural form of "medium."

And the name is spelled Kramden, not Cramden.

Alice Kramden June 28, 2011, 3:41pm

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Or is this a singular VS plural issue?
He plead
they pleaded?
But then i am dyslexic.. I think i spent around 4 terms in collage to get past freshman comp.. so take what i say with several grains of salt.

Milo the Bum August 6, 2011, 4:18pm

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A curious thing.... I happened on this in searching for some background for some advice I was preparing to give a non-native English speaker regarding a piece he'd written. In it, he had written that a character "bargained, plead and cajoled with" another character. I started off trying to communicate that cajoling is something that the actor does alone - one doesn't cajole with someone - one merely cajoles someone. But then I got lost on "plead." It was obvious that he needed the past tense, but which one? To my thinking, "pled" works better on its own, while "pleaded" works better with the prepositional phrase - one pled, or one pleaded with another. I wasn't certain though that that was the case, so I went out onto the web looking for some sort of verification. Instead, I found this, so I thought I'd just drop it in here for comment.

Arlo August 13, 2011, 2:39pm

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As a child in Canada, I was taught that "plead" and "plead" [pled] were both present and past tense, similar to "read" and "read" [red], and to "lead" and "lead" [led]. I suppose this is just the difference between the British way of speaking and spelling and the American way. Of course, it is their language.

Brock Murdoch August 13, 2011, 4:22pm

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I was taught "pled" growing up in the 90s. "Pleaded" sounds like something a kid would say when they haven't learned the proper usage yet.

Chris L August 23, 2011, 1:09am

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@JusticeJim ... Pet peeve alert! ... "All but myself and one other Justice have never stepped foot in a criminal courtroom..." Hold out your hand and let me slap it! "Myself" is wrong, no matter which way you look at it ... and you need commas to clarify. Here's a quick webpage on reflexive pronouns:

AnWulf August 23, 2011, 8:26pm

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@Alice ... Let me consult my medium circa materiam ... Hmmmm, she's says that treating media as a collective noun has been around since the 1920s and that it and data both can take a singular verb.

The general rule of thumb is that once a loanword is taken into a language then that language can, and usually does, treat it according to its own grammar rules and usage. It may be plural in Latin but it can be used as a collective noun in English. We do the opposite with information. In English it is a singular noun with no plural (we don't say informations) ... We took it from French ... and there is a plural in French!

AnWulf August 23, 2011, 8:37pm

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@In Fact ... What about need and ned, heed and hed, seed and sed?

Here is why they aren't strong verbs with with a vowel change and don't follow the pattern ...

Heed ... OE hedan, WEAK verb ... even in OE! And as you can see, it only had one 'e' to start with. Ic hede ... short 'e' sound as in red. So as you might guess, the past tense was 'ic hedede' (heeded).

Need and seed were nouns in OE. The verbs were from them ... Thus, they are week verbs.

AnWulf August 23, 2011, 8:51pm

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OK, finally to the post itself. While I like pled, etymologically speaking, it should be pleaded. Why? Because it is yet another Latinate from French and, typically, imported verbs or verbs made from imported nouns are weak verbs. However, this was made to fit a strong verb pattern likely do to the sound as others have pointed out. So, both past tenses are valid and correct. I like pled and will stick to it.

There is another imported French Latinate that also has an alternate strong ending ... prove ... The past participle can be proved or proven. I prefer proven but both are correct.

AnWulf August 23, 2011, 8:58pm

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AnWulf - due?

mmmmmom September 1, 2011, 11:43am

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@mmmmmm ... I'm really tired right now so I'm not understanding your question. I don't know what you're asking about that isn't already explained. Mind expanding the question and referencing what you're asking about?

AnWulf September 1, 2011, 2:36pm

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I'm with you. Pleaded does seem to imply some grovelling and in a legal case particularly, there should be no bias. It is simply the the plea which is subject to proof.

Lionel September 1, 2011, 5:33pm

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I teach in a graduate program and gave my students a writing skills test. They were supposed to correct grammar errors in sentences. More than half the students thought that "sneaked" (as in "she sneaked into the house after her curfew") was incorrect and changed it to "snuck." Argh.

Ann September 9, 2011, 5:15am

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They weren't wrong to do so.

From OE: snîcan to sneak along, creep, crawl, ['snike']
snícan Strong sv/i1 ... a strong verb changes the vowel in the past tense!
ic sníce present
ic snác past
ic gesnicen part.

My ME wordbook doesn't conjugate it. However we know it was a strong verb coming out of OE so it isn't surprising to find that many continued to change the vowel in the past tense. I could argue, etymologically speaking, that snuck is more correct than sneaked.

Regardless, snuck is acceptable. And I prefer it.

sneak verb \ˈsnēk\
sneaked or snuck, sneak·ing

Definition of SNEAK

intransitive verb
1: to go stealthily or furtively : slink <snuck out early>
2: to act in or as if in a furtive manner
3: to carry the football on a quarterback sneak

transitive verb
: to put, bring, or take in a furtive or artful manner <sneak a smoke>
— sneak up on
: to approach or act on stealthily

Usage Discussion of SNEAK

From its earliest appearance in print in the late 19th century as a dialectal and probably uneducated form, the past and past participle snuck has risen to the status of standard and to approximate equality with sneaked. It is most common in the United States and Canada but has also been spotted in British and Australian English.

Examples of SNEAK

They tried to sneak into the movie without paying.
She sneaked some cigars through customs.
He snuck a few cookies out of the jar while his mother wasn't looking.
They caught him trying to sneak food into the theater.
Can I sneak a peek at your quiz answers?

AnWulf September 9, 2011, 11:23pm

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Without reading through all the posts here...

My theory is that reading the past tense "plead" off a teleprompter while presenting the news is likely to cause the talking heads to misread it and say the present tense "plead" instead. "Pleaded" (it hurts me to even type that) is obviously much less likely to be misread.

Maybe the spelling should be changed to "pleed" (like "bleed") and "pled" (like "bled"). Bleed/bled don't seem to give people any trouble. Or even "plead" and "pled", maybe?

Desdamona September 14, 2011, 11:46pm

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Pled is not a word.

Marian September 18, 2011, 2:06pm

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@Marian ... of course pled is a word. But in case you don't believe me:

From M-W:
plead, verb \ˈplēd\
plead·ed\ˈplē-dəd\ or *** pled ***also plead\ˈpled\plead·ing ... ***emphasis mine.

If that isn't enuff ... It's worth seven points in Scrabble

AnWulf September 18, 2011, 3:37pm

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There's no such thing as "correct" English. All languages change and adapt. Read English from 50, 100, 500, or 1000 years ago and you'll know what I mean. This is just a small example of one of those changes. I wonder what it was like when English began to lose its gender distinctions. The older generation probably got upset, but the younger folks just talked how they felt comfortable and didn't give a rat's ass.

AndyAlm October 4, 2011, 2:30am

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You are using an American dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary says "pleaded, North American English also pled."

Marian October 4, 2011, 8:32am

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So what's the past tense of to dive? It is dived, not dove - that's a bird.
Past tense of sneak is sneaked.

Marian October 4, 2011, 8:33am

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@AndyAlm ... Just because that the rules can change doesn't mean there isn't a "correct" English. Otherwise, the tongue will fall asunder into sundry tongues as happened to Latin after Rome had fallen or happened to Anglo-Saxon after the Takeover. English has a lot of room in its rules for flexibility (such as pled, pleaded) but it does have rules!

You have trouble reading stuff from 100 years ago? That's likely just a wordstock problem.

If you don't know the spelling of 500 years ago, I can see how that might be a little hard. Otherwise, it is just the wordstock that might trip you up. Many of those words are still in the wordbooks, just not used nowadays ... like anfald (one-fold ... simple), umbe (around), both as standalone preposition and a forefast (prefix) as um-, wanhope (despair) ... forefast wan- (lacking) +hope, wantrust (distrust), asf.

Going back 1,000 years takes one to the fore-Takeover (pre-Conquest) days when Latinates were few, pronunciation and grammar rules were unlike today, and there were sundry dialects tho grammar anfaldness (one-foldness - simplification) was happening albeit slowly. That takes some swoting! lol

AnWulf October 4, 2011, 9:08am

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From OED: plead |plēd|
verb ( past pleaded or pled |pled|) ... interesting that the online "world" version of OED lists pled as North American or Scottish ... regardless, it lists the word so therefore, it exists.

From OED: pled |pled|
past and past participle of plead

So the word exists and is an acceptable past tense. As I pointed out above, plead is a Latinate and the normal is for outlander words (verbs) to be treated as a weak verb. But this one wasn't and hasn't been for many, many years.

From OED: dive |dīv|
verb ( past dived or dove |dōv|; past part. dived) [ intrans. ]

Pled and dove are acceptable past tenses.

AnWulf October 4, 2011, 9:40am

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I calmly count to Ten when I hear the term "PLEADED".
I finally had the chance to ask a Lawyer what he thought about this issue.
He smiled and said that the talking head lawyers and commentators on TV are F@$KTEDED!!

douginyyz October 4, 2011, 5:00pm

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GEE WIZ did I spell that right :)

douginyyz October 4, 2011, 5:02pm

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@Ann ... When you gave your class the assignment to correct the "grammar errors" in sentences, did any of them redefine the assignment, i.e. to correct the "grammatical errors" in sentences? Can a noun describe another noun? Not yet. But, "the times, they are a changin'." I just had to sneak this in. The Devil made me do it.

Harry October 21, 2011, 3:26pm

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Reply to lloyola:
"I turned off the sitcom. If, however, I turn off everything that offends me in the same manner, I will be left with nothing but the History Channel."

This year, I have become quite annoyed by numerous factual and grammatical errors in lots of programs on The History Channel. Many of the programs are clearly cheaply made, and they are cheaply made in countries like the U.K., Ireland, and South Africa. The owners of The History Channel are also too cheap to have new narrations written and produced to replace the (factually) erroneous and poorly-spoken ones that came with the cheap shows.

Hence, we in North America are also stuck with narrations that say, "The team are...", "The crew are....", and "The team decided....". Yikes. Clearly, a team cannot decide anything because a team does not have a mind or a brain. The leadership of the team does have a mind and a brain, so it can made decisions, but the producers of those programs are too lazy to have the narrator say, "The leader of the team decided," or "The leadership of the team decided."

You better watch out for that infernal, imprecise British English. They say things like "The Government are", and they call a whole ship of the navy a "who" rather than an "it" or a "she".

I reply to all of those people that "Pie are round and cornbread are square...."
If you don't recognize this punchline of a joke, do look it up on the Internet or ask some people about it -- preferably mathematicians and engineers.

D. A. Wood November 7, 2011, 10:52pm

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I suspect this occured because writers in the newspaper business could not remember how pled should be spelled, so they decided that it was easier to take the safe route and spell it pleaded.

Mark Spitzer December 24, 2011, 11:35am

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HLN is using the word plead "Joran Van Der Sloot will plead guilty... since he hasn't yet plead wouldn't it be he will plea guilty? I hate pleaded but this words is a tough cookie!!

RayAnn January 6, 2012, 8:17am

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No, you enter a plea by pleading, as oppose to pleaing. Plea is the noun and plead is the verb. But it's an understandably confusing word

InFact. January 7, 2012, 2:32pm

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Pled is most certainly a word.

Pled: past participle, past tense of plead (Verb)
Verb: Make an emotional appeal. Present and argue for (a position), esp. in court or in another public context.

Direct from the dictionary. Pleaded drives me insane when I see or hear it. I will stick to pled thank you very much.

Kaelathira January 13, 2012, 11:22am

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I will continue to use pled. It just sound better. When I hear the media using pleaded it irritates me almost as much as hearing "who'd a thunk". I know my sixth grade teacher is rolling over in her grave over that one! She made us stand and recite any word she called out in all tenses or we had to stay after school and write them a number of times. Only when she was satisfied that we knew how to properly use tenses, did we get to go home. I am fairly positive that she would have said pled is correct. Who would have thought it would become an issue to be debated..oh yes, who'd a thunk it?

SusanE February 1, 2012, 2:46pm

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Wow, I've been thinking it was me. I'm so happy to realize I'm not alone. It's gotten to the point that when I see the word 'pleaded' I change it to 'pled'. I've even had argument about it tonight. I just cringe at the way our language is being destroyed just to make it 'easier' for others to butcher it.

Why Cares February 9, 2012, 9:26pm

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Bryan Garner, quoted earlier, author of both Modern American Usage and editor of Black's Law Dictionary for over 20 years, is an excellent guide. Recapping somewhat, for those under the impression that pleaded is somehow newfangled when what they really mean is that the word sounds irksome to them:

"Traditionally speaking, pleaded is the best past-tense and past-participial form. Commentators on usage have long said so, pouring drops of vitriol onto 'has pled' and 'has plead':

[Then he cites usage books from 1893, 1905, 1906, 1926 "The past tense is pleaded. The use of pled or plead is colloquial", 1928, 1940, 1943. All of which fall rule pled as either wrong or slang.]

"The problem with these strong pronouncements . . . is that pled and plead have gained some standing in AmE, as noted in the 1950s: 'In the United States pleaded and pled are both acceptable. . . . In Great Britiain, only the form pleaded is used and pled is considered an Americanism.

"Indeed, pled . . . is nearly obsolete in BrE, except as a dialectical word. Nor is it considered quite standard in AmE . . . though it is a quite common variant. . . .

"Still, pleaded is the predominant form in both AmE and BrE and is always the best choice. . . ."

So, plead is a regular verb as of the 13th century, but 300 years later there was introduced the dialectical form and it was sometimes an irregular verb, which has lingered, dropped out of British English almost entirely, but gained a toehold in American English around the 1950s. Even so, it remains a lesser variant.

editirixrex February 16, 2012, 9:54am

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I don't believe what Editirixrex said one bit. Also, it is beside the point. The original question was raised about what is said on AMERICAN TV STATIONS, so British English is irrelevant here in this discussion. Why is it that you felt like going off on a tangent?

To top it off, the Americans and the Canadians have the British and the Irish outnumbered by a very wide margin. Just on a statistical basis, American English is far more important that any other kinds - which merely express minority views.

There is no reason for Americans to imitate British English.

From reading Australian newspapers, I have also seen that Australians are far more likely to adopt words from American English than from the others. For example, I saw the word "yuppy" in the Sydney newspaper w/o any explantation for what that means because Australians already knew.


D. A. Wood February 16, 2012, 10:10am

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Quoting the 2009 edition of a preeminent reference called MODERN AMERICAN USAGE's entry titled PLEADED; PLED; PLEAD (which cites American sources for all those examples pronouncing it a colloquialism or slang), seems relevant to the topic at hand.

The use of "pled" in American English gained some ground circa the 1950s, but that form is both newer and lesser used in this country than the predominant "pleaded"; the claim that pleaded is either ungrammatical, newfangled, or incorrect has no basis. While pled is common enough, it is in fact the upstart and less used variant here in the States.

"Correct" and "proper" or even "prevailing American usage" are rather slim (if not false) defenses of pled. "Sounds funny," however, is a perfectly fine personal motivation.

editirixrex February 16, 2012, 11:02am

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"How do you plead?" - "He pleaded not guilty". Correct English. "I sentence you to be taken ...and hanged by the neck ..."
Not pled, not hung. English law court language. Pictures are hung, convicted criminals hanged.
Your correspondent says you have to cry or weep while pleading. That must be in the US. In England you just wring your cap in your hands, and look shifty and apologetic. In 1970s South Africa you tried not to make jokes or seem frivolous, but it was hard.

Brus February 16, 2012, 4:58pm

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Yes, those are both proper American English as well. The first has a variant (pled, the subject of this thread) that is used in the States, but less often; the second, hanged, is utterly correct on both sides of the pond.

editirixrex February 16, 2012, 5:07pm

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DAWood is right to talk about the terrible quality of English being used in Britain today. Errors involving number just for one: for example as you say, "the government are..."
The telephone will tell you "the caller did not leave their number" (whose number, who are these people with a number?). It is in every paragraph of every newspaper. The words "he, him, she and her" have all been replaced by "they" and "them". I believe the speakers' defence is that they do not wish to risk being seen as sexist. Instead, they prefer to remain incomprehensible. Even when the gender of the person is known. "The boy left their socks in the box". Whose socks? Who are the owners of these socks? Oh! the boy's! You mean "the boy left HIS socks ...".

Newsreaders, reporters, politicians. Written and spoken language. They don't care and tell you that you are a grumpy old pedant if you complain. Is it that bad in the USA? I doubt it. Frasier and Niles always get it right. or do they ...?

The occasional cock-up with "I" and "me", ... In England it is almost regarded as correct to say "Daphne invited Frasier and I to dinner". How about Frasier wasn't included: "Daphne invited I to dinner". I subject, me object.

It's bad, isn't it?

Brus February 16, 2012, 5:19pm

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That problem with speakers and writers, especially British ones, not being able to distinguish between singular and plural is an especially ghastly one.

Here is an example that I read in a news article recently:
A group of about 10 trapped miners had already been identified as being all men. Then, a paragraph or two further down came a statement like "One of the rescued miners died on their way to the hospital." Holy hell. He died on HIS way to the hospital.

Another news article that was from the United States told of a driver who abandoned HIS passengers on an intercity bus. A couple of paragraphs down, the driver was identified as a woman. So SHE abandoned HER passengers. What happened in detail was that she parked her bus in a small town, where someone picked her up in a car and drove away, never to return. So her passengers were abandoned in a small town somewhere, rather than being taken to St. Louis, as promised when they bought their tickets.

Getting back to "pled": Shorter, one-syllable verbs are always better and more efficient than multisyllable verbs, just as long as their meanings are clear.
Hence: { pled, lit, ate, bit, dug, fought, rode, sung, and wore }

We do not need verbs like {pleaded, lighted, eated, fighted, rided, and singed}, because they are inefficiently long in syllables. This is besided the fact that "singed" has a totally different meaning. I have seen humorous copies of old ads that say, "Would you like your beard singed?"

No, thank you, I do not want any fire anywhere near my face!


D. A. Wood February 16, 2012, 6:12pm

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"Just on a statistical basis, American English is far more important that any other kinds - which merely express minority views"

I realize you may not have tried to make that comment sound as ignorant as it does; it is true America is the country with the largest population of English speakers. The problem is that this statement presumes that America has one common dialect, a presumption which isn't even close to accurate. By that logic, one may conclude that India, the second largest population of English speakers, with about one fifth the number of dialects represented in the USA, is statistically "far more important" than "minority" US dialects.

Why Bother February 16, 2012, 11:28pm

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Although I otherwise agree with much of what you've stated.

Why Bother February 16, 2012, 11:31pm

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Hello, "Why Bother",
It sounds like you never have met many Indian people in person, I have.

1. Many Indians, Pakistanis, etc., THINK that they speak English, but they do not.I have heard this with my own ears, and they are incomprehensible. BROKEN English does not count as "speaking English".

2. The vast majority of such people (as above) do not speak English as their primary language. They simply do not. Broken English is their second, third, or fourth language. Broken English does not count.

3. In Western countries like the United States, Canada, and ,maybe more, it has been necessary to create a standardized and thorough test called the TESL = Test of English as a Spoken Language to be given to all overseas students who come here for graduate school and professional schools in colleges and universities, and some of the others, too. NOT passing the TESL rules out those students from employment as assistant teachers of undergraduate students, or from professional programs in medicine, dentistry, etc. -- because they are unable to communicate clearly with their genuinely English-speaking students, patients, and colleagues. Sorry, but many of them could go to school here, but they cannot earn money by working at their schools. Many cannot afford to pay for their schooling.

4. At many different American colleges & universities, there are intensive programs in English (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) for undergraduate and graduate students who come here for education, but their proficiency in English is very low. Many of these came here from Asia, with the dominint groups being from India, China, and Southeast Asia. Those programs in English are time-consuming, taking about a year before the students can pass the TESL and go on into their chosen majors.

5. I am an American, but I know all about being a graduate student and the travails of many overseas students. I have been a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech, Tennessee Tech, and the University of Alabama myself, and after that, I have been a full-time faculty member in Maryland, Illinois, and Arizona. Hence, I have known a lot of foreign students, especially ones from India, and I have witnessed their struggles with English. What they said was often incomprehensible.

6. Personally, I knew a fellow faculty member, originally from India, who when he had arrived in the U.S. years ago was fluent in Telegu and Malayam, BUT he told me that back then his English was No Bloody Good (NBG), even though he has studied it in school back home. Nobody here could understand what he was saying. Hence, as he told me, he had to learn real English from scratch, in parallel with all of his other undergraduate courses. He could understand, but he could not speak it.
He did well because he earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in electrical engineerig in Illinois, and then he found a teaching position in Missouri. He has now been an American citizen for a number of years, and he is married, too.
It all took a lot of hard work on his part, and he has told me that now English is his favorite language -- and he has to mentlly "shift gears" to speak anything else, such as with his mother, father, and brother.

Finally, so summarize again, speaking broken or incomprehensible English does not count!

D.A.W. .

D. A. Wood February 17, 2012, 6:08am

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Also, strong dialects of English in the U.S. died out during the 1940s and 50s. The experience of World War II, the Korean War, and the advances in telecommunictation -- and especially television, killed them off.

Men and women who served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and those who moved (often long distances) across the country to work in defense factories had to start speaking a common, unified language. Then listening to the radio and watching TV cemented down the process.Watching motion picture helped, too. Everyone learned to understand what Clark Gable, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Jimmy Stewart were saying, and to imitate them, too.

Then, there was "Me Tarzan, you Jane", but that doesn't count!
D.A.W. .

D. A. Wood February 17, 2012, 6:18am

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Synesis doesn't really bother me, but I do edit it out of American texts especially when it's inconsistently applied. The usage is not, however, an error.

editirixrex February 17, 2012, 3:07pm

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Synesis may not bother you too much, but I sure am pleased to learn that in America you edit it out when it isn't wanted. I have not lost that many nights' sleep over it either, but I make it a point to show it the door whenever an example comes my way and I am in a position to do so. Otherwise I just grumble about it. Syneses! Don't you just hate them!

Brus February 17, 2012, 3:39pm

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I am really pleased to catch on to your much earlier correspondence on "sneak" and "snuck". As emigres returned Scotsmen, regularly visiting the ancestors in the Highlands, we amuse each other there on winter or rainy nights by conversing in wide-ranging variations on Standard English, telling tales maybe, for example, about how grandpa snuck grandma into the cinema without paying, using this wonderful word, picked up in 1950s Southern Africa, from what we assume is American. We also talk about torriential rain (pronounced torry-en-shul) because one of said it as a child and we thought it was funny, like "anyweny" in place of "anyway". You may shake your heads in disapproval, but in Celtic circles we do this sort of thing for fun. And drink whisky. Which may explain it.

Brus February 17, 2012, 4:00pm

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D.A. Wood,

You have made some valid points and have expressed opinions formulated from legitimate experiences. I'm not trying to attack you. I was making a comment on your statement based on statistics of English speaking populations and recognized dialects, and I was exaggerating the truth just as much as it seemed you had in that specific point.

I have met many Indians, several who speak better English as their second language than many North American born, first language English speakers, and that is neither more nor less valid than your experience.

I've seen no evidence to support the notion that the vast majority of any English speaking country's population speaks a standardized English, whether as their first language or otherwise. Communications and exposure have helped immensely in unifying dialect, but you don't have to drive very far to hear variations, and that doesn't mean the people who don't live in your state are wrong or uneducated, they've just accepted a slightly different regional standard.

We're all language lovers in this thread, I'm sure. Those who don't care probably wouldn't be here. I'm for proper English as we all are. But I recognize that absolute rigidity is not a reasonable or attainable goal. The standard must have room. English is not the same today as it was in some centuries old rule book, nor will it be, in years to come, the same as rules today. Dictionaries are revised, and language evolves. English has adopted many words from other languages, brought to it no doubt equally by speakers of broken English. Groups you may have dismissed a little too quickly brought us words like "grammar."

There is no reason for Americans to imitate British English.

Perhaps not. There are already huge differences, so why go back? But it's this room for growth and the acceptance of the regional standard that allowed this to happen in the first place. Otherwise, somewhere today, an American teacher would be adding a u in red ink to the word "color."

Why Bother February 18, 2012, 11:10am

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"Pleaded" always makes me do a double take when I see it, but the switch does make sense in light of the long term trend in English to eliminate apophony and make irregular verbs regular (or strong verbs weak if you prefer). This trend started as far back as the transition into middle English; if it has sped up in recent decades then I blame literacy (I always thought of apophony as friendlier to the ear than the eye). At any rate, while I am as nostalgic as the next fellow, regularizing our verbs will aid the spread of English as a global lingua franca.

Matthew February 21, 2012, 6:53am

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@Matthew: Except that pleaded is the both the prevailing usage and older than pled. It's not so much a new hack as commenters claim in this thread but both a throwback and signs of a lesser variant starting to lose even more ground.

editirixrex February 21, 2012, 7:39am

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@Matthew ... editirixrex is right. Go back upthread and read my earlier post. Plead is a Latinate and the wont is for outlander verbs to be weak. The same happened with prove ... it now has a proven as a past participle. Truly folks, it's not something to get worked up about. Pleaded or pled, both are ok.

AnWulf February 21, 2012, 12:15pm

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I agree fully. This is an example of the uneducated bastardization of the English language by those who would inform us of our daily issues. "Pleaded" as opposed to "pled" would be as malfunctioning as "Leaded" vs "led". Its 4th grade stuff which is about where I would put today's journalism. Its right up there with "nucular" (ph. new-que-ler) as opposed to "nuclear" (ph. new-clear). That is actually 3rd grade stuff but seems to be all the rage now. He "pleaded" that our leaders have "leaded" us to "orientate" ourselves to policies destroying the "nucular" family. Its all so low brow

Tim Cresswell Esq March 19, 2012, 2:06pm

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Tim, you are so right about "pled".

However, when it comes to "nuclear" there are three syllables. See this Web page:

The pronunciation of nuclear is roughly new-clee-ar, with the accent on the second syllable. Oddly, people who know anything about the subject know how to say "nuclear physics" (five syllables in all) -- but knowledge of the sciences (and history) has been dwindling to nearly nothing in the general public.

The pronunciation of the ending of "nuclear" is roughly the same as in "la-min-ar", but this is another word from physics and engineering. The big advance in the aerodynamics of the great P - 51 Mustang fighter plane of WW II was its laminar-flow wings. Those were first put into use by the new North American Aviation Company of Los Angeles County, and laminar-flow wings cut down greatly on the turbulance generated by wings. Thus, the drag on the P - 51 was much less than on earlier figher planes, and it had much higher speeds and a much longer range.

That long range was what made the P - 51 to fly all the way from England to Berlin and back, for example. They were also able to fly all the way from Iwo Jima to Tokyo and back, for example, escorting B - 29 bombers.


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 9:49am

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Note: "able to fly". I left out a word.

D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 9:51am

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"Lowbrow" has been one word for a long time, at least in North American English. says that it came into use in about 1902 in the United States.

Speaking of lowbrow, I just saw "alrite" in print on the Internet. Where I went to elementary school during the 1960s, it was emphasized in the textbook and by the teacher that the phrase is really "all right".

I have also seen another insulting word in novels and short stories: "slopehead". It means about the same thing as "lowbrow", and it refers to cavemen, and especially Neanderthals, with their sloping foreheads.

Oh, well, it is difficult to deal with all of the lowbrows and slopeheads that we have now.

Interestingly, the expression "O.K." has been traced by linguists all the way back to President Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States, and a man from a Dutch-American family in New York State. Dutch was his first language, at home, and he learned English later. "O.K." was Van Buren's abbreviation of the Dutch phrase "Oll Korrekt", which meant about the same as "all right". As the President, whenever Van Buren finished reading an official document (something the President did a lot of), he marked it with "O.K." in acknowledgement -- whether he found it to be good, bad, or indifferent. It was just his way of keeping track of things. (Back then, the President had very few assistants as compared with a century later.)

The word "okay" is just a back-formation from Van Buren's "O.K."

By the way, Van Buren was the first President of the United States to have been born after the Independence of the United States from Great Britain. He was born in 1782 in Kinderhook, New York, and he died at the age of 79 in Kinderhook, too.
One theory about "O.K." that has now been discredited was that O.K. stood for "Old Kinderhook", supposedly a nickname for Van Buren.

Van Buren is the only President whose first language was not English -- though in my opinion, the same thing applied to George W. Bush, whose only language was Broken English. I used to cringe every time he made a speech.


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 10:28am

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I once knew a man from Indonesia who had lived in the United States for years. He was earning a B.S. at the college where I taught, and he was the husband of one of the other members of the faculty.

He told me that his parents spoke Dutch at home, and of course there is a national Indonesian language, too, which is the language of schools, businesses, government, etc.

He laughingly added that he spoke three languages: Broken Dutch, Broken Indonesian, and Broken English !! Somehow, he could make himself understood here.

I also taught electronics engineering to an old, white-headed Vietnamese man. His
English was nearly incomprehensible, but I noticed that when he was speaking with students from places like Morocco and Algeria, he spoke fluent French, and so did they. So, for them, French was their lingua franca.

Oddly, after the Communists took over South Vietnam, they sent the old man to a "re-education camp". After many months there, the Communists decided that "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," so they let him go. Then, he and his children made it to the U.S. as refugees. Next, when I taught him two courses, he was very close to completing his B.S. in electronics engineering, so he wasn't such an "old dog" after all.

I was lucky in that in both of the classes that I taught him, his daughter was a student, too. Whenever the Dad asked a question in very broken English, and I stood there with a blank look on my face, his daughter would "translate" his question into her fluent English. Then I could answer it -- and he understood English well. I look at what he did as quite courageous because his English was so bad.

I had way, way too many student who refused to ask any questions even when they didn't understand something -- and I made it abundently clear that I believed that asking questions and getting answers was a GREAT way to learn. I encouraged it. I usually answered questions then and there, but occasionally I had to say either
1. We will talk about that after class, or
2. That is a great item for graduate school. (And undergraduates do not have the background for it.)


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 10:54am

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It is well-known among linguists and child psychologists that most small children (ages two through four, or so), go through a period when they think that all verbs are regular verbs.
I noticed the same thing about my own daughter when she was two or three.
Learning about irregular verbs come a little later.

This is why small children say things like { breaked, comed, doned, eated, flyed (two syllables), gived (two syllables), growed, knowed, maked, runned, singed (two syllables), taked, telled ...}

Oddly, we have college and high school graduates nowadays who are stuck at the same level with such words as { flyed, growed, layed, pleaded, sayed,...}

I wish that I had $5.00 for every time an adult said or wrote "layed" insted of "lain" and "laying" instead of "lying".
This is despite the fact that "layed" and "laying" have "off-color" meaning.

Just think of this statement by a woman, "I was laying on the beach all morning."
Well, at least that one sounds like a lot of fun and a pleasant experience.
My question is just, "With how many men?"


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 11:16am

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LOL, when it comes to using "pleaded" instead of "pled".

I recently saw an episode of Gilligan's Island from a DVD that I bought. In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack washed up on the beach that the Air Force had lost. Before trying it out, the Professor expressed his concerns about the age of the rocket fuel in the pack.

This gave Thurston Howell III the opportunity to say, "There's no fuel like an old fuel."

Are the journalists who say and write "pleaded" old fuels ?
Likewise for "sayed" and "layed"?


D. A. Wood March 20, 2012, 12:27pm

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Horrified to read "the beach that the Air Force had lost." Surely you mean "the beach which the Air Force had lost"?

We really don't want to hear how the Air Force could lose a beach.

Brus March 20, 2012, 5:25pm

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Aye, D.A., ye're fair going your dinger the nicht, as we say in Scotland. Are you on the malt too?

Brus March 20, 2012, 5:36pm

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Brus, if I may suggest, using "which" instead of "that" really doesn't clear up any ambiguity suggesting that the Air Force has lost a beach. Instead, I would suggest the following phrasing: "the castaways found a jet pack that the Air Force had lost, washed up on the beach."

Oh, and while we're at it, I think that in this case, "that" is preferred over "which". Traditionally, "that" is used in a restrictive sense, while "which" is used in a non-restrictive sense. Presumably, the Air Force has lots of jet packs. The one mentioned is a particular jet pack, identified restrictively, as having been lost, so "that" would be appropriate.

porsche March 21, 2012, 4:30pm

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Porsche, you suggest "the castaways found a jet pack that the Air Force had lost, washed up on the beach." Well I suggest that the relative pronoun "which", referring to the jet pack, should ideally follow the antecedent (the word to which it refers) as closely as possible, so if it is the castaways:"the castaways whom the air force had lost ...", if it is the jetpack then "the jetpack which the air force had lost" and if the beach, then "the beach which the air force ...".
We think the writer meant the jet pack: so your version is left with two problems, first the dangling participial phrase "washed up on the beach" which also wants to be as close as possible to "the jet pack". As the position immediately after "jet pack" is now occupied by the relative clause introduced by "which", we place it immediately before: "The castaways found washed up on the beach the jet pack which the air force had lost."
The second problem is using "that" as a relative pronoun. it is all the rage now, and is wrong. Earlier research on this site discovered that the blame may lie with Microsoft whose grammar checkers underline "who, whom and which" with wiggly green lines, tempting users to succumb and just shove in "that" instead regardless, much to the annoyance of readers and listeners who know better.
"Who, whom, whose" and "which" are relative pronouns, "That" is used to introduce indirect statements. So "The spokesman said that (about to report a statement made earlier) the police had arrested the suspect who (referring back to the suspect, so 'who' is a relative pronoun, relating to 'suspect') was hiding in the house which (referring to house, so relative pronoun) they had surrounded".
Relative from Latin "re-fero" = carry back, ... referre, retuli, relatum. 'Relate' from the 4th principal part of the same verb. The relative pronoun refers. The antecedent is the word to which it refers. In English we have a set of words "who, whom, whose" for people, "which, whose" for things. Germans have a grid of these words to sort out: wer, wie, was, wessen, wem, etc, and can cope. The French have 'qui' and 'que' and can manage it. So why can't the English learn to speak? pleaded Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady.

Ah yes, 'pleaded' ...

Brus March 22, 2012, 4:49am

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I had realized that there was something awkward about what I wrote before:

"I recently saw an episode of 'Gilligan's Island' from a DVD that I bought. In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack washed up on the beach that the Air Force had lost."

However, I did not expect this to spark off a discussion of relative pronouns and subordinating conjunctions (that, which, although, because, since, so that, such that, though, unless, until, when, where, while -- and a good many more). Do not be confused that many of these can also be used as other parts of speech.

Now, I have thought of some ways to modify my sentence somewhat for clarity:

1. "In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack -- washed up on the beach -- that the Air Force had lost."

2. "In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack, washed up on the beach, that the Air Force had lost." (simply inserting two commas).

3. "In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack that the Air Force had lost and that had washed up on the beach." (Aha! Parallel construction, and what a fine thing it is!)

There are doubtless other ways to rephrase this sentence for clarity.
I do not think that using "which" helps, but it could be used.

Speaking of the German language, it has subordinating conjunctions, too.
The most common one is "dass", which is commonly written with the German "ez-set", a special letter that looks like a Greek "beta". "Dass" means "that".

Also, German has something in this area that does not exist in English anymore. (It probably did in Old English.)
German has three definite articles -- because it has nouns of three different genders. These are { der, die, das } in the nominative case. However, these are also commonly used as subordinating conjunctions, too, and those usually translate into English as "that". Subordinate clauses are also ALWAYS set off by commas in German.

Here is an example: Das Flugzeug, die rote streichende Fluegel haben, gehoert Von Richthofen.
This means, The airplane that has red-painted wings belongs to Von Richthofen.
Yes, the Red Baron.

In certain cases in German, the words "das" and "dass" can mean exactly the same thing.

D. A. Wood March 23, 2012, 4:10pm

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I don't guarantee that I got all of the endings on the German adjectives right.
Sorry, but in German the usage of nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs are all a lot more complicated than they are in English.
On the other hand, adverbs, conjunctions, and predicate adjective are all easy.

Also watch out for those notorious German compound nouns.
My favorite one is "Farbfernsehgeraet" = "color television set", but I am an electronics engineer, after all.
For many years, Germany had three different systems for color TV.
West Germany used the PAL system, which came from Britain.
East Germany used the SECAM system, a French one that had been adopted by the USSR and its satellite states.
Also, there were American Army and Air Force bases in West Germany that had their own TV stations, and those used NTSC - the American system, of course.

Years ago, some of the American stations started showing HOGAN'S HEROES, but within a month, the local governments said, "Please don't broadcast that one anymore!" No matter what kind of a TV set you had, you could still pick up HOGAN'S HEROES in black & white, and the German governmentss didn't want all of those Nazis (and idiots, too) on TV.


D. A. Wood March 23, 2012, 4:29pm

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"Aye, D.A., ye're fair going your dinger the nicht, as we say in Scotland. Are you on the malt too?"


D. A. Wood March 23, 2012, 4:30pm

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"Presumably, the Air Force has lots of jet packs."

In reality -- and on "Gilligan's Island" -- the jet pack was completely experimental and those were never widely produced.
Also in reality, I don't think that the Air Force ever experimented with jet packs. Those were items that the U.S. Army experimented with, so a jet pack belonging to the Air Force was a piece of fiction on "Gilligan's Island".

The idea for the Army was that some soldiers could conceivably use jet packs to fly over the battlefield** and then land in the rear of the enemy lines, either for sabotage or for scouting. This turned out NOT to be practical.

**For many decades, the two places that the Army worried about and made big plans for defending were West Germany and South Korea. Thus, the Army's high commanders and their staffs were continually planning on
1) Fighting the Soviets, the East Germans, and the Czechs in West Germany.
2) Fighting the North Koreans and maybe the Red Chinese in South Korea.

Almost any small advantage that they could think of in the Army was worth considering. Large advantages, too, including cannons and rockets that could carry nuclear weapons and chemical weapons. We are very, very fortunate that a war like that never broke out.

I have read that the U.S. has not had any nuclear weapons in South Korea since 1992. However, the Air Force has them on Okinawa and Guam, and the Navy has them on aircraft carriers and submarines in the Western Pacific -- not too far from Korea.


D. A. Wood March 24, 2012, 9:13am

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It occurred to me last night that some people do not know the humor behind
"There's no fuel like an old fuel."

This is a twist on a saying that has been around for centuries:
"There's no fool like an old fool."

Old fools do things like these: spending a lot of their money on much-younger women; telling false tales about their younger days; trying to grab too much power; spending a lot of their money on alcoholic beverages; spending a lot of their money on fast sports cars; eating too much; going out and catching VD; et cetera.
I think that you should get the picture.

I have known a good number of old fools in my life!
I just don't want to become one!

D. A. Wood March 24, 2012, 9:37am

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Is that right, D A Wood?

Well, at least I have never tried to grab too much power.

Brus March 24, 2012, 10:24am

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So, are you an "old fool" or not? LOL

You remind me of a happening in "The Incredible Hulk" TV series.
David Banner had hitched a ride with a man on a motorcycle.
Then, they went to a pub near a college campus.

In that pub, they met a young woman who said, "When I went to college, my Daddy told me don't smoke, don't drink, don't mess around with men, and don't ride on any motorcycles."

Then, in a really saucy tone of voice, she added, "I've never ridden on a motorcycle" -- implying that she had already done all of the other three!"

D. A. Wood March 24, 2012, 11:12am

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Yes, DAW.
That's what she was implying, was it?
Oh dear.

Brus March 24, 2012, 3:13pm

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A typical date for Brus:
He spent a lot of his money on much-younger women; took her for a ride in his expensive sports car; took her out to dinner at an expensive restaurant where he ate way too much and told false tales about his younger days; spent a lot of money on expensive alcoholic beverages and got drunk; and continued by catching VD. Then while driving her home, he got arrested by the highway police.

Finally, he PLED guilty to driving while intoxicated -- and then he got sent to jail for four months and fined 5,000 pounds sterling. [Was that enough? I am unfamiliar with British criminal law, except that they do not whip or hang convicts anymore.]

That sounds like an "old fuel" -- an "old fool" -- to me. Just do not let it happen again!

LOL, Dale

D. A. Wood March 24, 2012, 3:45pm

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Hi there, D A Wood.

Now, I think you need a wee rest and a holiday. One can tell: you wrote 'pled' again, when you meant 'pleaded'. Carlsbad is nice at this time of year.

Brus March 25, 2012, 10:57am

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PLED, PLED, PLED! Four letters rather than seven, and one syllable rather than two -- much more efficient on both counts.

Also, here in the U.S.A., we have two famous and scenic Carlsbads:
Carlsbad, California, in the far south, and Carlsbad, New Mexico, Come on over, see them, and enjoy them. Take your choice, and then buy airline tickets either to San Diego. Albuquerque, or to El Paso, Texas (immediately south of New Mexico).
If you go to southeastern New Mexico, you can also visit Roswell, the home of weird tales about flying saucers in the 1940s and 50s.

Carlsbad, N.M,, has a spectacular National Park, and Carlsbad, Calif., has spectacular views of the coast and the Pacific Ocean.


D. A. Wood March 25, 2012, 12:19pm

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So many people are so passive nowadays, and they accept this w/o any complaint:


On the SUNDAY MORNING program today,

NOT "more risky" as your man said, but rather "riskier".

This is basic elementary school English, and it has been in use for at least 500 years.

Dale A. Wood


Note that I have also heard these on broadcast TV this year and last year:

"more free" rather than "freer"
"more safe" rather than "safer"
"more happy" rather than "happier"
"more grave" rather than "graver"
"more hungry" rather than "hungrier"
"more clean" rather than "cleaner"
"more pure" rather than "purer"
"more rare" rather than "rarer"
(If a $2.00 bill is rare, then a $3.00 bill is even rarer. If an American $2.00 bill is rare, then a Canadian $1.00 bill is even rarer. They do not print these in Canada anymore.)

The next thing that we know, they will say "more corny" rather than "cornier", "more bad" rather than "worse", "more ugly" rather than "uglier", because their language on TV in the United States is getting worse, uglier, and cornier.

Alas, the phrases "more unique" and "most unique" just "gag me with a spoon" (to use some slang English). Nothing can be "more unique" than "unique".
(The experimental airplane "Voyager" made a unique flight around the world. That is true.)

D. A. Wood March 25, 2012, 12:25pm

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Here is some good news about language from this morning:

Nora O'Donnell on the "Face the Nation" TV program said: "Let's listen." - which is a very fine phrase that has stood the test of time.
Too many others say the completely awful "Take a listen."

For strong historical reasons, when it comes to the five senses, one can say or write:
1. "Take a look," or
2. "Take a taste."

But not
3. "Take a listen,"
4. "Take a feel," (Wow, this one sounds "off-color".), or
5. "Take a smell."

Things have been this way for a long, long time, and I cannot see any good reason to change now. I believe in changing things when there are positive benefits to this.

On the other hand, "Take a sniff" and "Take a whiff" have been in use for a long, long time.
Also have been, "Take a leap of faith," "Take a shot at it," "Take a seat," and "Take a nap."

On a different subject, in American slang English "Take a p***" and "Take a c***" have been in use for a long time. Do people say these things in other places? As for Canada, the answer is probably "Yes".

"Take a jump off the top of the Empire State Building" is not very nice, either.

I once had a date who objected when I told her to "Take a 270-degree turn at the next interchange," but I am an engineer, anyway.
Within an hour or so, I decided that she and I didn't have much in common, and I never saw her again.

"Take a 270-degree turn is just the way that I think," and it is the way that a good number of other people think. Lots of other people don't mind "90-degree turns", "270-degree turns", etc.

D. A. Wood March 25, 2012, 12:30pm

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Now, I am reminded of a comedy routine in the "Get Smart" TV series when someone was giving Agent 86 directions on how to drive somewhere. These included:

"Go over the underpass and then under the overpass...", but someone interrupted to argue, that it was actually:
"Go under the overpass and then over the underpass..."

I thought that this one was hilarious, and then a couple of decades later I found out that this one was a spoof of the difficulties of driving around in Washington, D.C.
I know, I know! That is hard!

I once took a taxi to the National Airport just south of Washington, and I swear that the driver drove a figure-8 to get to the right part of the airline terminal to drop me off. There was a place in the middle where one road went on a bridge over the other. So, I really have been "over the underpass and then under the overpass," or was it the other way around?
I must PLEAD ignorance on this one because I don't remember. I was thinking about "Get Smart" and Agent 86 at the time.


D. A. Wood March 25, 2012, 12:40pm

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I am a son of American TV from the 1960s, especially.

When it comes to programs like these, if it happened, I usually remember it:

Emergency!, Get Smart, Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heroes, The Invaders, The Outer Limits, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Star Trek, The Time Tunnel, and Voyage ot the Bottom of the Sea.

I also remember a lot about some fine British TV series, such as The Avengers and The Prisoner, that were broadcast here. Later on. Danger: UXB was a fascinating British series. I remember the main character, Lieutenant Brian Ash, very well, too. This was a series of the 1980s.


D. A. Wood March 25, 2012, 1:00pm

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A reporter for NBC - TV news in the U.S.A. said this morning:

"He has pled not guilty to charges of ..."

The sweet sound of good, concise English, well spoken, entered my ears!
This was a reporter who is based in Los Agneles, but he was reporting on events in Washington State.

There is no need to use two or three-syllable words when one-syllable words work just as well in their places.

This reminds me of people -- whom I brand as attempted CHROME DOMES -- who say and write "individuals" (five syllables) now, when "people" (two syllables) works just as well, if not significantly better.

Likewise, they say and write "individual" (five syllables) when "person" (two syllables) significantly better.

Then, there are those people in law enforcement, etc., who say "gentleman" when "jackass", "cretin", or "slopehead" are a lot more appropriate to the situation.
"Neanderthal" would also fit, but that is a four-syllable word.

There was the man who was very rude to Taylor Swift, and then - away from microphones - President Obama was overheard calling him a "jackass". That word was so appropriate to the situation that nobody could complain, except for the five percent of people who will complain about anything.


D. A. Wood April 7, 2012, 5:34am

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It was always fun to think about Agent 86.

If you're looking to save a syllable or two then note folk or folks instead of people.
You can bind to the internet rather than connect if your binding (connection) is good then you can swiftly cruise the net!

AnWulf April 7, 2012, 6:27am

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The words "surf" and "browse" are just as short as is "cruise" (in syllables), so there is no efficiency in using "cruise".

I also "link" to the Internet, so one cannot do any better than this in words.

I have had a very long, ongoing dispute with my Internet company (AT&T), which was clearly in the wrong. Finally, someone conceded that there was a "network" problem. I told them, "No, not network, and you listen to me - a heck of an engineer from Georgia Tech. What you have is a LINK problem, and that is in the LINK between my apartment and the rest of the Internet system." I do not give one iota about the "network" of AT&T - you just get my LINK working, and things will be fine. After many months of this, a technician from AT&T started looking at this link, and he found a circuit box that birds or small mammal had broken into. That let rainwater into the box, and that rainwater was spoiling a splice between two cables.

The whole purpose of that box was supposed to be to keep that splice dry. If the administrators of AT&T had merely listened to me -- many months ago -- then they could have sent a technician over to examine everything in my LINK to the network. The whole problem would have been repaired long ago.
Get the chewing tobacco out of your ears, I say to them!


D. A. Wood April 7, 2012, 7:19am

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I wasn't putting out "cruise" to bestead (or instead as a verb) "surf" or "browse". Surf and browse are both good words as well.

Link is also a good short word. In your case, it was indeed a physical link problem. I too hav link problems. In my case, they say the tower ... and thus the antenna ... needs to be raised to get a better signal. Altho it only became bad after the swapped their antenna. (Alignment?) The link to net started working again during a recent storm. It's still weak but better than nothing! Maybe the wind nudged their (or my) antenna a bit.

AnWulf April 8, 2012, 1:23am

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Quoting from Garner's Modern American Usage:

pleaded; pled; plead. Traditionally speaking, "pleaded" is the best past-tense and past-participal form. Commentators on usage of long said so, pouring drops of vitrol onto "has pled" and "has plead":
"Plead, sometimes wrongly used as the pret. of plead. The correct form is 'pleaded.'" John F. Genung, Outlines of Rhetoric 324 (1893)
[Seven other cites spanning the years 1905 to 1943]

The problem with these strong pronouncements, of course, is that "pled" and "plead" have gained some standing in AmE, as the Evanses noted in the 1950s (although they mentioned only "pled"): "In the United States 'pleaded' and 'pled' are both acceptable for the past tense and for the past participle. In Great Britain only the form 'pleaded' is used and "pled" is considered an Americanism." (DCAU at 372)

. . .

Still, "pleaded" is the predominant form in both AmE and BrE and always the best choice. . . .

Anon? April 11, 2012, 10:57am

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"pleaded"... in both AmE and BrE and always the best choice...

Whoever considers that to be true does not known anything about Information Theory.

Of course, the British have a great deal against Information Theory since this science was founded and developed by an Irish - American, Claude Shannon. Shannon was with the Bell Telephone Laboratories when he started, and then he moved on to become a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Irish and American! Holy cow. Is that anything like being Cockney and Australian, or French and Canadian? I don't think that upper-class British like any of these...

Information Theory is the science of efficient communication.

D. A. Wood April 11, 2012, 4:09pm

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Yes     No