Passed vs. Past: What’s the Difference?

Two of the most confusing words in the English language are “past” and “passed”. In this article, we will cover the differences between the two and provide examples so that you which word to use in any given situation.

What Does “Passed” Mean?

The word “passed” is the past tense form of the word pass, which is a verb. The verb pass has several meanings. One meaning of the word is to move in a specific direction. Another meaning of the word is to come to an end or to go beyond. The term can also mean to be successful, such as in the case of getting a non-failing score on an exam. To pass can also mean to discharge something or allow something to flow from one’s body. An archaic meaning of the word is to adjudicated something or to bring a law into effect.

Examples of Passed

A writer may use the word passed in a variety of ways. These are a few examples of how the term can be used the most effectively:

  1. The time when we were best friends has now passed. We are nothing more than acquaintances at this point.
  2. She passed through a mile of weeds to get to the house in the back of the woods.
  3. Family night is not the same without Uncle Ben, who has passed.
  4. She passed Steve a note in math class to let him know that she has a crush on him.

What Does “Past” Mean?

The word “past” can be used as a noun, adjective, adverb or preposition. When used as an adjective, it refers to an elapsed time period. As an adjective, it means a time period that is no longer existing. As a noun, past refers to a time period that has gone by. When someone uses “past” as a preposition, that person describes the movement to the further side of something.

Examples of Past

These are some uses of the word past that may be helpful to you so that you can visualize the word more effectively when thinking of passed vs past:

  1. We’re now past the time of redemption. Our home has been sold to a new owner, who now occupies it.
  2. He has come a long way since his days of panhandling, but some people still like to remind him of his past.
  3. If you want the baseball player to miss the ball, you have to throw it past his reach.
  4. You’ll have to drive past the Walmart before you see the apartment complex where Sherry lives.

Tips for Remembering Passed vs Past

There may be times when you get stuck and can’t remember the different ways to use the words passed and past. One trick that will help you remember is that the word “past” is never a verb. Therefore, you can’t use it to discuss anyone performing an action. For example, you would write, “He passed her on the road” instead of “He past her on the road.” The word “passed” is always used as a verb and describes someone performing an action. For example, “He passed her the money” is the appropriate way to write about someone performing the act of handing something to someone else.


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