Quick English: Passed vs. Past

There are many homophones in English that are easily confused, especially in writing. Passed and Past is a very commonly confused pair, but once you know the difference between passed and past, you won't make that mistake again!



Past tense and past participial form of the verb "to pass".

"To Pass" means to go forward, proceed, depart. This can mean to move forward in time, space or in action.

Time: "How did you pass the time between classes?"

Space: "... and then James passed the ball to me and I scored a goal!"

Action: "Charlize passed all her exams."

"Leilani's great-grandfather passed his fortune onto her."


Pass the ball
Pass the ball 




On the other hand, "past" has many different meanings. Though they work similarly, they are not all the same. None of them, however, fill the same use as "passed".

Past - (adj.) gone in time, done with, over; (n.) time that has gone by, a period of time, before the present; (prep.) beyond an age or time of, after a particular hour; beyond in place, further than a place;  (adv.) to pass or go by

adjective: "It's now past time to hand in your assignments."

noun: "Whatever happened between us is in the past."

preposition:  "Let's meet at half past 10." [10:30]

adverb: "Reese ran past him on her way to catch the bus."


Walk past
The woman walked past the wall 


The best way to decide if you're meant to use "past" or "passed" is to try writing the sentence in the present tense.

While "James passes the ball" works, "Let's meet at half pass 10." does not.

Hopefully this guide to the difference between passed and past has made these two words clearer for you! What other word pairs confuse you?


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