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Passing Along Vital Information on “Passed” and “Past”

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Is it “passed” or “past”? Learn to properly use common phrases like “passed away,” “walked past,” “past week,” and more.

Passed or past? We'll explain the difference.
“Passed” and “past” have nearly identical pronunciations.
Past vs. Passed
  • Past has multiple functions: adjective (in past years), adverb (walked past me), noun (in the past), or preposition (past his prime). Passed, on the other hand, only functions as the past tense of the verb pass (he passed the salt).

Getting “Past” the Confusion

Imagine this: You get the results of your test. You’re excited to share the good news with your family. What do you tell them?

A) I past the test!

B) I passed the test!

If you chose “B,” congratulations, you passed this quiz. But if you answered incorrectly, don’t feel bad. These words are commonly mixed up because they’re spelled similarly and pronounced almost identically. Below, we’re going to elaborate on the difference between passed and past.

How To Use “Passed” Correctly

There’s no other way to say this, but passed is the past tense and past participle of the verb pass.

Passed can only ever function as a verb—nothing else. It has quite a few meanings under its belt. A few of them are:

1. To exceed or surpass

She passed all expectations.

2. To proceed or extend beyond

Harry passed the bakery on the way to school.

3. To go away

My fears passed once I reached the top of the mountain.

4. To reach the required standard in an exam, course, etc.

All the students passed their exams.

5. To accept a proposal, law, or rule

Thankfully, the law was passed.

6. To go unnoticed

He passed as a security guard and made his way into the player’s locker.

7. To be transferred or to give something to somebody

She passed the salt and pepper when I asked her to.

8. To decline

Lawrence passed on the opportunity to be a keynote speaker.

9. To give somebody a message

Ever passed along a message.

10. To throw, hit, or kick a ball

Chanel passed the ball and Louise made the three-pointed to win the game.

Passed away is a phrasal verb that means “to die.” You wouldn’t say past away.

I was unbelievably sad when my uncle passed away last month.

I was unbelievably sad when my uncle past away last month.

Passed is one of the many forms of pass. Its other forms are passes and passing. This is one major distinction from past, which has no conjugation.

How To Use “Past” Correctly

Past can function as an adjective, adverb, noun, and preposition.

As an adjective, past means “gone by in time,” or “belonging to an earlier time.”

The past five years have been difficult.
The past events prepared us for today’s outcome.

As an adverb, past means “go beyond a point; from one side of something to the other.” It can also be used “to indicate the passing of time.”

He waved as he drove past.
An hour went past and our request wasn’t fulfilled.

Past as a noun refers to “an earlier period of time.” It is the opposite of future.

In the past, we used to always get ice cream after the beach.

And finally, as a preposition, past is used to tell time or to mean “at the farther side of somebody or something.”

It’s half past twelve.
We scurried past the haunted house.

Don’t Pass Up on Flawless Writing

Remember this:

Past will always remain as past. For example:

I walk past the store.
I walked past the store.
I will walk past the store.

However, passed can be two of five forms of the verb (to) pass.

I pass the store on my walk.
I passed the store on my walk.
I will pass the store on my walk.

Another quick and easy way you can ensure that you’re using passed and past correctly is to use LanguageTool as your text editor. This advanced, multilingual text editor will detect incorrect use of passed and past because spelling and grammar mistakes are a thing of the past.

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