Angela’s ABCs Passed and Past

Words often confused

Passed and past are commonly confused, but I hope to explain the difference so that you’ll never confuse them again.

Passed can only ever be part of the verb ‘to pass’. It is the past tense and the past participle of that verb. It is never anything else but part of that verb:

  • The procession passed under the bridge. (past tense of ‘to pass’)
  • The procession has passed under the bridge. (past participle of ‘to pass’)

Past on the other hand, has several different meanings. Though they are similar, they are not exactly the same. None of them, however, fills the same use as passed, and none of them is a verb.

  • Past can be a noun: We should live in the present, not in the past. (meaning a time that has already happened)
  • Past can be an adjective:  This past year has been a difficult one. (meaning gone by)
  • Past can be an adverb: I was nearly at the bus stop when a bus went past.(meaning beyond)
  • Past can be a preposition: My house is just past the bus stop. (meaning after)


For reference:

A noun is a word used to name or identify a person, place, thing, quality, feeling or action:

The sea

An adjective describes a noun:

The raging sea

A verb is a word that describes an action or occurrence or indicates a state of being:

The raging sea crashed

An adverb qualifies or tells you more about a verb:

The raging sea crashed wildly

A preposition is a word specifying place (in, on, at), direction (towards, up, down), time (during, while), agency (by), comparison (like, as . . . as), possession (of), and purpose (for). It indicates the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence:

The raging sea crashed wildly onto the shore.

One Comment on “Angela’s ABCs Passed and Past

  1. Thanks Angela, once again this is very clear, and well explained.

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