Pleaded Guilty or Pled Guilty?

by Craig Shrives

Should I write "pleaded guilty" or "pled guilty"?

"Pleaded guilty" and "pled guilty" are both acceptable because "pleaded" and "pled" are both used as the past tense of "to plead." The most acceptable past tense is "pleaded," but, over time, "pled" has also become acceptable.
  • He pleaded guilty to the charge. correct tick
  • ("Pleaded" was the original past tense of "to plead.")
  • He pled guilty to the charge. correct tick
  • ("Pled" has become an acceptable tense of "to plead.")
pleaded or pled?

More about the Past Tense of "To Plead"

The most acceptable past tense of "to plead" is "pleaded," but, through common usage since the mid-20th century (especially in the US), "pled" has also become acceptable in both the UK and US conventions. [evidence]

If you're looking for the version that will aggravate the least, use "pleaded."

"To Plead" Was a Weak, Regular Verb

"To Plead" was originally a weak, regular verb, meaning its past forms were only "pleaded" (past tense) and "has pleaded" (past participle).

However, over time, "to plead" has been treated like a weak, irregular verb, probably because it sounds a lot like "to bleed," the past forms of which are "bled" and "has bled."

Here is "to plead" with some other weak, regular verbs:
Weak VerbSimple Past TensePast ParticipleComment
lovelovedhas lovedregular verb
playplayedhas playedregular verb
pleadpleadedhas pleadedregular verb

Here is "to plead" with some other weak, irregular verbs:
Weak VerbSimple Past TensePast ParticipleComment
telltoldhas toldirregular verb
bleedbledhas bledirregular verb
pleadpledhas pledirregular verb

"Plea" Is the Noun

Of note, the noun is "plea." For example:
  • He pleads guilty by submitting a guilty plea. correct tick
  • (In this example, "pleads" is a verb in the present tense, and "plea" is a noun.)

What Is a Weak Verb?

A weak verb is one that has a "-d" or "-t" ending for its simple past tense and past participle.

What Is a Regular Verb?

A regular verb is one that typically adds "-ed" or "-d" to the base form to create the past forms. Read more about regular verbs.
Read more about irregular verbs.

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See Also

adopted or adoptive? adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? cannot or can not? who's or whose? What are weak verbs? What are regular verbs? What are irregular verbs? What are noun? How to improve your English spelling List of easily confused words

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