August 16, 2007

Tense clarity

I’m tired of being saddled with read as the past tense of read. (Yes, yes: the past tense of to read. I’m also tired of being saddled with the infinitive as the canonical form for introducing verbs in English, and I’m more than happy to buck that standard.) It makes writing just that little much more difficult. You can’t just write “When I read Harry Potter,” because it’s not clear whether you’re saying “At the time in the past when I did read Harry Potter” or “Every time I am reading Harry Potter.”

You see.

And this reminds me: Some people don’t know that led is the past tense of lead (to lead! Fine! Jeez!), so you see ungrammatical/unspellanonical phrases like “We were lead to the front of the line.” Lead? The metal? Interesting.

Yes, “unspellanonical.” I claim it as my own. How many minutes before someone registers the domain?


  1. Possible meanings:

    “We were encouraged to the front of the line, through the use of a lead baton.”

    “We were chased to the front of the line by a hail of lead bullets.”

  2. In both cases, I think that would be “We were leaded to the front of the line.”

  3. Poetic license.


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