Written by David Hatz, Retired Teacher and Coach
Whenever I watch TV news and the topic is a court case, the newscaster almost
invariably will say that the accused pled guilty/not guilty. Wrong! The past tense of plea is
pleaded. The accused pleaded guilty/not guilty.
Sadly, many TV viewers don’t care. A poll several years ago revealed that 63 percent of
respondents preferred using pled, thus proving once again that the majority isn’t always right.
But while pled may be the preferred usage, grammarist.com notes that pleaded is the
“Pleaded is the standard past-tense and past-participial form of the verb plea. Pled has
always been considered incorrect by usage authorities, but it’s so common that we have to
accept it. … But because pleaded is much more common and is unanimously accepted by all
dictionaries and usage authorities, it is safer than pled. And it should be noted that pleaded is
preferred by an especially wide margin in publications known for high editorial standards.”
OK, there is your grammar lesson for the day. Now on to the fun stuff.
Body Parts Can Serve as Powerful Verbs
When learning the parts of speech, most of us remember a noun is something that
“names a person, place, thing, idea, action, or quality.” With that in mind, we know body parts
are nouns because, well, they identify parts of the body.
But heads, faces, knees, elbows, and the like can also be used effectively as verbs. Let’s
take a tour of the body to prove the point.
You can head a company, but if things go wrong you will have to shoulder the blame.
When we make poor choices, we eventually have to face the music.
A good leader will back his employees, but if he doesn’t toe the line management can
You might eye someone suspiciously, or wait for the police to finger a suspect.
Sometimes people strong-arm others to remove them from positions of authority. But
be careful, or you might be the next one to get elbowed out.
I don’t always sing along with the radio; sometimes I just mouth the words.
Be careful when nosing around in someone else’s business because they may not
When I can afford it, I like to foot the bill when I go to dinner with friends.
In baseball, a fast runner can leg out an infield hit.
With AP exams looming on the horizon, many students need to knuckle down so they
will be well-prepared.
If you need to get somewhere but don’t have transportation, you can thumb a ride; or
you can ride with me if you can stomach my endless puns.
What’s Your Name?
I have devoted space in previous blogs to the importance of clarity in both the spoken
and written word. Ambiguities and vagaries can lead to misunderstandings that often are
humorous and/or embarrassing.
Herewith for your reading pleasure is an amusing exchange between a job applicant and
a prospective employer.
Applicant: “My name is Erik with a k.”
Employer: Writes it down. “And your last name?”
Applicant: “With a k.”
Employer: “No, I got that, Erik. What’s your last name?”
Applicant: “My last name is with a k.”
Employer: “Wait … your name is Erik Erik?”
Applicant: “My last name is With a K.”
Employer: “OK, wait a minute. So, to clarify …”
Applicant: “My last name is literally the phrase (uses air quotes) ‘Withakay.’ It’s all one word.”
Employer: Looks exasperated and finishes writing. “Now, Erik, please review the document to
make sure I’ve got everything right.”
Applicant: Reads the document, then says: “Not quite. … I spell Eric with a C.”
I wonder if he got the job?
Parting thought: Until next time, I offer you some unsolicited but sage advice: Think before you
speak; read before you think.