Pled versus Pleaded.

December 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear Colleagues,

Has anyone noticed the banishment of “pled” from America’s courtrooms? It seems that all attorneys, judges, probation officers, and yes, even interpreters have exiled this past-tense and past participle form.  Now everybody seems to favor the term “pleaded”. To me, it is like nails on a chalkboard.

The question asked in court is “How do you plea?” The answer is “I plead” not guilty or guilty.

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.

Plea” is a noun. The verb is “plead.” While we have a general tendency to conjugate nouns, that doesn’t make it correct. When we look at similar verbs, we quickly see that the past tense of read is “read” and the past tense of “lead” is “led.” If you add: meet/met, feed/fed, and the like, it is hard to see any confusion. 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. What do you think?

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