January 23, 2016 | Posted in: Writing & Grammar Tips

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Passed vs. Past

Passed vs. Past. Know when and why to use passed or past.

When Passed and Past are Commonly Confused

Example 1: They walked passed/past an abandoned building.

Rewrite the sentence in the present tense. They walk pass the old house. Does it read correctly? Is another verb used in the sentence? If it doesn’t read correctly and there is another verb, then past would be correct as you need an adverb.

Example 2: They passed/past an abandoned building.

Rewrite the sentence in the present tense. They pass an abandoned building. Does it read correctly? Is another verb used in the sentence? If it reads correctly and there isn’t another verb, then the past participle (past tense) of to pass (passed) would be correct.

Passed

Passed is a verb in the past tense. As the past participle of the verb “to pass,” it can be an intransitive verb (doesn’t take an object) or a transitive verb (requires both a subject and one or more objects).

Example (intransitive verb): The days passed quickly. The subject is days, and there is no object.

Example (transitive verb): Thomas passed his final exam. The subject is Thomas, and the object is his final exam.

Example (transitive verb): Silas passed Nico the book. The subject is Silas, the direct object is the book, and the indirect object is Nico.

Past

Past relates to location and locates something in time (and sometimes in space). It can be used as an adjective, noun, preposition, or adverb.

Past as an Adjective
Definition 1: Gone by in time; elapsed; done with; over.

Definition 2: When attributed to a group of people, it can also mean having served one’s term of office; former.

Example 1: Her days for partying are now past.

Example 2: All past presidents of the United States were male.

Past as a Noun
Definition: The time that has gone by; a time, or all the time, before the present.

Example: In the past, many homes did not have indoor plumbing.

Past as a Preposition
Definition 1: Beyond in time; after; beyond the age for or time of (when stating time of day in minutes, quarter or half hours, or a particular time).

Definition 2: Location; at or on the farther side of (something); up to and beyond (a person or place).

Example 1: It is half past five.

Example 2: My house is the first one past the park.

Past as an Adverb
Definition: So as to pass or go by.

Example 1: The ball sped past Susan’s head.

Example 2: Sylva pushed past the crowd.

9 Comments

  1. Tom
    January 24, 2016

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    Great post, and one I might have passed in the past. I believe in many cases with new writers the issue isn’t one of confusion, but carelessness when editing.
    As I always do, and I’m sure you would suggest, we should conduct a reading aloud session on our later edits – red pen at the ready. Once engrossed in the reading, unless the person reading is concentrating on the words, rather than the story, it would be easy to substitute one word for the other.
    There are also many scribes who have no interest in types of verb, so simple examples of each word would work better as a guide.

  2. Laurie
    February 13, 2017

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    This is awesome. It is a huge pet peeve of mine when I see people using passed and past incorrectly. I often struggle with affect vs effect and lie vs. lay. I’m going to have to search your posts to see if you have information I can use for these. Thank you for this.

  3. MaryAnne
    February 13, 2017

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    This is such a Great post! this is so good to know this difference! 😉

  4. Jodie
    February 13, 2017

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    A great post! It’s great to learn why as it makes it so much easier to remember. Thank you for sharing 🙂 x

  5. Renee Franklin
    February 13, 2017

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    I don’t think I have ever had a problem with these two words. Some others, yes such as, affect and effect. I would imagine this would be a confusing topic to some though, especially with the way kids shorten everything these days.

  6. ghastlyvongore
    February 13, 2017

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    I love reading your posts, they are so helpful. I don’t think I have ever had issues with this in particular but I definitely have grammar issues.

  7. emmaeatsandexplores
    February 13, 2017

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    Im a grammar geek so I love reading your posts! More often than not I get it right but sometimes you make me think twice and it’s always great to learn something new!

  8. My Rambling Reviews
    February 13, 2017

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    This is a great post, I always get confused with certain words like your and you’re… I love reading these, thanks for posting them!

  9. Ashley Rose
    February 14, 2017

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    I’m not always the best with grammar but this was a good explanation.

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