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Thread: Leapt? Lept? Leaped?

  1. #1

    Default Leapt? Lept? Leaped?

    My characters are forever leaping over things.

    Now... would it be "He leaped over the fence." or "He'd lept over the fence."

    The thing is, I can't seem to get this straight in my mind. I mean, "Leaped over" is probably the right way, but that implies he's doing it right now. What if he did it five minutes ago? He had leaped over the fence? It just looks wrong to me... :/

    Hlep!

    Silke

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    There are several solutions to the problem, and if a sentence seems incorrect or reads clumsily, even if grammatically correct, then it is a problem. Probably more a case of the meter of the sentence being wrong than its grammar in this instance.

    So, you can usually solve the problem by writing it how you would say it if you were verbally describing it to someone. That's usually not a bad technique for writing, since you are essentially telling a story to an audience, even when writing, and you should always endeavor to talk to your audience in their language. Don't imagine an English teacher looking over your shoulder as you write, imagine a potential buyer for your book doing so; they're the ones you are writing it for.

    I think that's more important than worrying about grammatical precision, which I find is something writers, and particularly inexperienced writers, worry about unduly. After all, grammatical 'errors', idioms and speech colloquialisms in the text didn't stop the late Jeff Torrington's Swing Hammer Swing! from winning the Whitbread prize for a first novel in 1992, in addition to later picking up the Book of the Year prize too.

    If the grammar aspect does worry you though, and you don't like lept, or even leaped, the other thing you can do is rewrite the sentence to avoid the word altogether, so perhaps say the fence he had just crossed, sprung, traversed, negotiated, or any number of other suitable alternatives. Perhaps even keep the word lept and change the order in which it appears: having lept across the fence five minutes ago.

    There's no excuse for sloppy grammar and bad spelling of course, but there's also no excuse for using language that either you, or your target audience doesn't like either.

    Al
    Last edited by Al B; 05-18-2008 at 03:47 AM.

  3. #3
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    Good advice, Ali B. The ear should be the final judge.

    Leap is one of those verbs in transition (like dive and dream). It is in the process of acquiring a regular past participle -ed ending but the older form is still in use.


    leap leapt (have/had) leapt
    leap leaped (have/had) leaped

  4. #4

    Default

    I figured "Lept" is wrong, but for some reason this looks nicer to me than leapt.

    It's one of those words that will forever bug me I think.

  5. #5
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    I like leapt better than leaped. It seems to suggest a rapid motion in a way that leaped doesn't.

  6. #6
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    Maeve, do you think this transition is predominant in the US? I don't think I've ever seen "leaped" used in the UK, always "leapt"...

    Ali

  7. #7
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    I think American speakers and writers would be more likely to use leaped. Ex. He leaped into the fray.

    A few similar past forms are alive and well in American English,(ex. slept, wept), but the tendency is to go with -ed.

    Sometimes one form will remain in use alongside the -ed form.
    Ex. The baby crept under the table. That dude creeped me out!

  8. #8

    Default

    Actually...

    He leaped into the fray, but he leapt over the fence -- that makes sense to me.
    He leapt into the fray just looks weird to me, unless I'm writing past tense.

    *bonks head on table*

  9. #9
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    I think that to be consistent, a writer needs to choose one or the other--leapt or leaped--as the past participle and then stick to it.

  10. #10
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    rammatical 'errors', idioms and speech colloquialisms in the text didn't stop the late Jeff Torrington's Swing Hammer Swing! from winning the Whitbread prize for a first novel in 1992, in addition to later picking up the Book of the Year prize too.

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