Grammar Guy

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How do you plead?

Curtis Honeycutt -
Grammar Guy
National award-winning
syndicated humor columnist
Connect with him on Twitter (@curtishoneycutt) or
I’m sure pleats will eventually correct? If the past tense of “lead”
come back into style. I still re- is “led,” and if “bleed” becomes
member the pleated khakis I wore “bled,” shouldn’t the past tense
to church in the mid-1990s. My of “plead” be “pled?” Not so fast!
Dockers brand double-pleated What about “bleat” and “bleat-
pants complemented my penny ed” or “knead” and “kneaded?”
loafers to perfection in order to There’s no pattern to this word
create that “nice-Baptist-guy-all- construction, so let’s seek an ex-
the-girls-just-want-to-be-friends- pert opinion. According to both
with” look I was going for. When the AP Stylebook and the Chica-
pleats became passe, I traded my go Manual of Style, “pleaded” is
Dockers for blue jeans, much to always the acceptable past tense
my parents’ chagrin. form of “plead.” They assert that
Today I’m not talking about “pled” is considered a colloquial-
pleats. I’m talking about the ism, which is a really nice way
words pleaded and pled. With of saying “bless your heart, you
high profile political court cases don’t know any better.”
in the news (and perhaps more When it comes down to it,
to come in the near future), I “pled” isn’t incorrect, but it’s
thought it would be a great time certainly losing in the popular-
to brush up on the different ways ity polls. According to Google
people claim their innocence Books’ Ngram Viewer, pled has
while under oath. gained considerable popularity in
Back in December, former per- recent years when it comes to ap-
sonal lawyer to President Trump pearances in books, but pleaded
Michael Cohen said, “I take full still outpaces pled by a steep mar-
responsibility for each act that gin. So, while AP and Chicago
I pled guilty to — the personal Manual of Style would like you
ones to me and those involving to believe that “pled” = “dead,”
the president of the United States people like Michael Cohen use
of America.” Yet at the end of “pled” perhaps more often than
January, a New York Times ar- we think. And, if the federal in-
ticle led with this line: “President vestigators keep handing out
Trump’s longtime adviser Roger subpoenas, we’ll all be paying
J. Stone Jr. pleaded not guilty on attention to how each individual
Tuesday…” pleads (and also if his/her pants
Is it possible both usages are have pleats).
Keep people talking properly about you, too.
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Keywords Curtis Honeycutt, syndicated humor, humor columnist, National awardwinning, Grammar Guy, Twitter curtishoneycutt, columnist Connect, Guy National, awardwinning syndicated, talking properly, people talking, direct object, subordinate clause, toast bar, subjectverb agreement
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