'Pass Time' or 'Pastime': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 10, 2023

Wondering whether to use ‘pass time’ or ‘pastime’? And what is the difference between the two? We’ll go over that, plus you’ll learn how to use both phrases correctly in a sentence.

The quick answer is:

  • ‘Pass time’ is a phrase that means spending time doing something.
  • ‘Pastime’ is a noun that refers to activities we do in our free time.

‘Pass Time’ vs. ‘Pastime’ in English Grammar 

As you just learned, ‘pass time’ means spending time doing something. It acts more like a verb.

‘Pastime’ is a noun that refers to the actual activities you do to pass that time.

These words are what are referred to as homophones, words that sound the same but mean different things.

‘Pass Time’ vs. ‘Past Time’ vs. ‘Pastime’: What’s the Difference?

We just went over the difference between ‘pass time’ and ‘pastime,’ but what about ‘past time.’

The phrase is one you might not hear often, but it refers to a time that’s passed already.

For example, ‘People used to read by candlelight in a past time.’

But the phrase itself is a bit awkward, so you might not see a whole lot of it.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Pass Time’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘pass’ is: “move, proceed, go,” “to go away: depart,” “die > often used with on,” “to move in a path so as to approach and continue beyond something: move past another vehicle going in the same direction,” “to run the normal course > used of time or a period of time,” “to go or make one’s way through,” and  ‘to become legally rendered.”

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘time’ is: “the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues: duration,” “leisure,” “the point or period when something occurs: occasion,” and “an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end.”

Definition and Meaning of ‘Pastime’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘pastime’ is:

  • “Something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably: diversion.”

How to Use ‘Pass Time’ in a Sentence 

Now that we know what both phrases mean, let’s see some examples of how to use them in a sentence.

Here’s how you’d use ‘pass time’ in a sentence.

  • We played basketball to pass time until Mom came home to make dinner.
  • Grandpa suggested we go fishing to pass time until dessert was ready.
  • When we were little, we’d pass time by reading a magazine or two.
  • We usually binge-watch a few shows to pass time on our days off.
  • He likes to pass time by reading manga.
  • Her favorite way to pass time was to play with her Barbie dolls.

How to Use ‘Pastime’ in a Sentence

Now, let’s see how to use ‘pastime’ in a sentence correctly.

  • They always say that America’s favorite pastime is baseball. I don’t know how true that is anymore.
  • My favorite pastime is shopping for vintage jewelry
  • What’s your favorite pastime? Mine is playing basketball with my friends.
  • I’m always traveling. My mom says it’s my favorite pastime.
  • Reading is my grandma’s favorite pastime. She never goes anywhere without a book.
  • You must truly love boxing. You’re always in the gym. Is it your favorite pastime?

Final Advice on ‘Pass Time’ and ‘Pastime’

Now that you know the difference between ‘pass time’ and ‘pastime’ and how to use them both in a sentence correctly, you can start using them in your everyday writing with confidence.

We’ve got a ton of other content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases you might come across as you’re learning the language.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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