Commonly Confused Words: Passed vs. Past

by | Jul 11, 2022 | Commonly Confused Words | 0 comments

One of the best things about the English language is that some pairs of words sound identical, right?  Wrong. From pray and prey to there, they’re, and their, these homophones, if you’re like me, probably make you a little crazy. Today, we’ll be going over two homophones that are particularly tricky to keep straight: passed vs. past.


Passed vs. Past at a Glance

passed vs past

When deciding between passed vs. past, the meanings of both words are important to consider:

  • Passed is the past-tense form of the phrase to pass.
  • Past has several meanings, but it can be used as an adverb, noun, adjective, or preposition.


When To Use Passed

In the battle between passed vs. past, let’s get the easier one out of the way first. Although we already covered the fact that passed is the past-tense form of to pass, it can be easy to get this word confused with other phrases that involve movement, like to run past, to fly past, or to hop past. If you’re using another movement verb, besides just to pass, you need to pair it with past instead of passed.

Examples of Using Passed:

– As she passed Dunkin Donuts, she couldn’t stop herself from going in.

– Instead of going into work, the man passed his office and went back to bed.


When To Use Past

past and passed

The main thing that you need to keep in mind is that the word past has several different meanings. Before you get too worried and go back to writing custom content, let’s go over how this word can be used as an adverb, as a noun, as an adjective, or as a preposition.


Using Past as an Adverb

As an adverb, you would use past if you want to note movement from one point to another.


– The man drove past his exit because he didn’t listen to his wife’s advice to ask for directions.

– They decided to avoid going past McDonald’s so that their toddler wouldn’t ask for a Happy Meal.


Using Past as a Noun

As a noun, using past means that you want to take note of something that happened before what’s happening right now.


– While talking to her friend, she realized how glad she was that middle school was in the past.

– In order to forget the past, the man moved away from his small town.


Using Past as an Adjective

passed or past

When you want to use past as an adjective, it should also be used when referring to something that happened before the present. However, the difference between using past as an adjective, instead of as a noun, is that you have to use it while describing a noun.


– All of the past members of the club meet every year to reminisce about their glory days.

– It’s way past time to get to the theater before the movie starts.


Using Past as a Preposition

Finally, when past is used as a preposition, you indicate that something is moving beyond something else or that something goes from one particular reference point to another.


– Make sure that the dog doesn’t go past the edge of the yard.

– The kids were in such a hurry that they ran right past the ice cream truck.


Passed vs. Past: Don’t Leave This in the Past

Now that you know how to use past and passed the right way, make sure that you put this knowledge to work. Are there any other homophones or commonly confused words that you have a hard time with? Share them with us in the comments!