Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

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
  • 29 comments

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@Jasper - I started off by intending to give thou, thee etc as an example, when I realised that was a disappearance rather than a change in a word form, which is why I chose ye, the old subject form of you, which is still shown in some nineteenth century grammars. Perhaps you should go and live in Yorkshire:

"Watching the people get lairy
It's not very pretty I tell thee"

Kaiser Chiefs (Leeds)

Apparently, the OED has the first citation for snuck from as long ago as 1887.

Google Books goes slightly earlier; this is from 1881:

"Well, sir, your boy Aleck got a straw, snuck up behind a sorrel mule, tickled him on the hind leg, and ..."

http://books.google.pl/books?id=J5hMAAAAMAAJ&q=snuck&dq=snuck&hl=en&ei=oSsnTvfuNsfEsgbUw8CXCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&redir_esc=y

repeated a bit later (1886) in slightly less standard English:

"Well, sir, yer boy Aleck got a straw, snuck up behin' a sorrel mule, tickled him on the heels, an ..."

One from 1889:

'False doctrine snuck in amongst them with a great and holy appearance'

And another from 1895:

"I have just sandbagged the messenger and got a cool ten thousand out of his safe, when a beastly opposition train robber snuck in on me, slugged me, and took and made off with all the stuff"

Warsaw Will Feb-06-2014

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Pled sounds better; do not worry about writing; in court, "...the defendant 'pled guilty....' at a past date...."; King James bible sound; traditional; Black's law dictionary is definitive.
Atty, 40 years, retired public defender, pled 1,000's guilty, in fact.

bob foster Apr-26-2014

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@Bob Foster - Being Scottish, where it is also used in court, I have no objection to 'pled', indeed rather like it. But on a point of information, or however you lawyers put it, although it may have a King James Bible sound, it doesn't actually appear in the KJV, whereas 'pleaded' does, three times. :)

Warsaw Will Apr-26-2014

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I hate to say it but there is no reason to hate either form. 'pleaded' is actually older. This word comes from French so was not irregular when borrowed. It came to be pronounced 'pled' in some contexts after analogy with 'read.' Now that I've said that, I want to be clear I don't advocate a particular form. Let people speak how they want. 'Pled' is fine. It is completely untrue that people read or write worse than the generation before t hem. Language and spelling naturally change over time. Since language has existed, these complaints have existed. And no, it does not mean you are smarter than young people. You are just pretentious, old or both.

Leo Marino May-07-2015

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I've been wondering what happened to "pled" also. "Pleaded", to me, sounds retarded and lacking sophistication. I've also been noticing other words being "dumbed down" in a similar fashion. It saddens as well as aggravates.

Bass Feb-17-2016

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The verb "plead" has 2 meanings. One meaning is similar to "beg;" She pleaded for leniency, or I pleaded to the principal on my child's behalf. This verb needs an object.

The secondary (less common, legal) meaning is "to make a statement about the facts" Ex: He pled not guilty. The officer pled his ignorance on the matter. Or the fixed expression "He pled the fifth." This is the only sense where "entered a plea of" could be synonymous. This is a stative verb.

For the first meaning, the past form is "pleaded (for / to)." For the secondary (legal) meaning, the past tense form is "pled."

I did legal work for many years in the US, and I currently teach English. This is my informed opinion, and I'm sticking to it - although I really don't care which term people use.

Kiki Apr-02-2016

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Well I just wanted to say that Proper Grammar is a lie there is no such thing, and we shouldn't conform to it we should get rid of it altogether.

Sombody123 Apr-15-2016

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@Sombody123

Yep, just like speed limits and taxes.

user106928 Apr-17-2016

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Pleaded is correct grammar, pled is what sounds more pleasing to the ear because it's been used for so long, mainly by American journalist. But in the past few years we've found it being replaced with pleaded, as the main authorities on grammar say it's the correct choice.

Braindabrian Apr-18-2016

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I hate hearing every news story using the (wrong) word: pleaded. I agree that there is a perfectly good word to express the past tense of entering a plea, and that is pled. Even now, when I type "pled", the auto-spell underlines it in red, as if I've typed a non-word. What's next? Now that the media says that I've pleaded at court, should I say that I've readed the book, or that I've feeded the dog? Perhaps I should have leaded a revolt when the media began using pleaded instead of pled.

Joe Hatch May-15-2016

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{t may be "old-fashioned, but then so am I. I go with "pled."

William J Upper May-27-2016

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We are not talking connotation and de oration here. Plead is plead and the past is pleaded, end of discussion. There is no pled!

Susan Rose May-28-2016

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Re: 'There is no pled!'

To quote The Everly Brothers 'Wake up little Suzie'.

Pled is alive and well and living in many Scottish courtrooms.

user106928 May-29-2016

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I have always used pled and wondered where the switch to pleaded came from. To me it strikes me as incorrect as it would be to say breeded instead of bred.

Heidi1 Jun-03-2016

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I guess it's my age 81, but fought rather than fit or fighted as past tense for fight seems right to me. However, lit rather than lighted as past tense for light seems right to me. I guess to be consistent Joshua should have fit the battle of Jericho as the song says. I certainly do not go along with lighted or fighted although I have never heard fighted. Of course, I am a fan of fled over fleeded and pled over pleaded although my spell checker is not.

William Hagerbaumer Jun-16-2016

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In court, it is common for attorneys and judges to state someone "pled guilty" in the past. I was a criminal prosecutor as well as defense attorney for years and I rarely heard the utterance, "pleaded," in oral discourse. I'm not sure what global marketplace carries more weight than daily use in the courtroom.

Allan Lolly Jul-19-2016

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That makes a lot of sense. Almost my whole life I've heard "pled" and only recently have heard people use "pleaded". "Pleaded" does generate more of an emotional appeal and makes a person who admits guilt seem if they are remorseful.
Using "thru" instead of "through" also bugs me. I can't stand that my boss at work, in charge of online writers, does this. It's English. Yes, language is fluid and English is well known for backstabbing other languages in a back alley, but that doesn't mean you should just lop off letters because you can make the same sound with less.
I also like "leapt" instead of "leaped", "snuck" instead of "sneaked", and "hung" instead of "hanged". The latter in all of these examples just sounds as wrong as "pleaded".
And just to get it off my chest, acronyms are not words. That's why we call them acronyms. I can't believe "LOL" is in the dictionary.

Bonnie Hittle Aug-29-2016

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IT IS PLED!

Leesa May-08-2017

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So, should we expect "he bled to death" to become "he bleeded to death"?

Mary G Dec-08-2017

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My uncle was publicly executed in the sewers surrounded by hobos

connor Dec-12-2017

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I totally agree that the use of "pled" sounds correct, while using "pleaded" sounds babyish to me. Example;
The defendant pled guilty.
The newspapers and online news reports lately seem to always be using pleaded; I don't know when they changed. My mother was always a stickler for grammar and she would have used "pled." She had 2 uncles and a grandfather who were lawyers, so I wonder if she picked up "pled" from them.

user106936 Jun-08-2018

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I want to add that my mother's grandfather and 2 uncles who were lawyers were of Scottish heritage, but it was way back there. The original ancestor came to America in the 1700s. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but "pled" has always sounded right to me. Using "pleaded" sounds ignorant to me. Besides, we have "bleed-bled," "feed-fed," and "read-read" (the last sounding like "red").

user106936 Jun-08-2018

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I cringe every time I hear someone say pleaded, when it should be pled! It's been 'pled' all my life...why did it suddenly change to this incorrect use of English?

user106961 Jun-17-2018

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I completely agree and have been fed up with with media using the improper ‘pleaded’ over ‘pled’. Thank you for sharing and feeling my pain in the English.

Max139 Aug-22-2018

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It's pled. Pleaded is not a word. It entered into the record (as old French) through court fillings primarilly submitted by English Second Language lawyers, judges & clerks then ignorantly rebroadcast without correction by lazy journalists. Some excuses float about acadenia and the interwebs regarding the widespread appathy towards the blatent grammer violation, most revolving around how hard uncommon verbs are for lazy people like; English teachers, journalists and newspaper editors to learn.

JonH Aug-31-2018

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I totally agree: "pleaded" is trying to be "nice" and avoid a monosyllabic word (possibly because many obscene words are monosyllabic). "Pled" rings right to my ear.

Leisureguy Dec-02-2018

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I won't seek to speak eloquently (as you all are so capable of), but just to state how I feel. This brings to mind the word "conversate". No such thing! After typing the word, the dictionary didn't recognize it as legitimate, and underlined it in red. Grammatically correct would be "converse". Same as using "pleaded" to define an answer to a charge. Sounds as dumb as "freezed". As was mentioned previously, "pleaded" is representative of someone who begged, whereas "pled" was the submission of a plea. Let's get it right. I'm tired of the constant changes to things we know are correct. We practice, so hard, to be politically correct [that's another story], so why not employ that same enthusiasm in being literally correct?!

enall Dec-12-2018

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"Pleaded" sounds Juvenile, Inane, Asinine, and just plain STUPID.
One doesn't say they "Bleeded" when they cut themselves.

user107847 Apr-13-2019

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