Pled or Pleaded

What is the past tense of the verb to plead? Should we say that Squiggly pled guilty or Squiggly pleaded guilty? Think about it for a second.

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

pled or pleaaded

Most sources say that the correct past tense is pleaded. Squiggly pleaded guilty. That dirty rotten scoundrel.

Garner’s Modern American Usage, the AP Stylebook, and the Chicago Manual of Style all say to use pleaded. You should also use pleaded as the participle, as in Squiggly has pleaded guilty.

Some people do prefer pled, and the AP Stylebook calls it a colloquial past-tense form. Nevertheless, most lawyers use pleaded. For example, in a 2013 ABA Journal post, a senior litigation associate named Brian Boone reported doing a Westlaw search and finding that “the U.S. Supreme court has used pleaded in more than 3,000 opinions and pled in only 26.”

Your Quick and Dirty Tip is to stay out of trouble so you never have to make a choice, but if you must, tell people you pleaded innocent or guilty.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.

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