‘Passed' vs 'Past': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 30, 2022

The difference between ‘passed’ vs past’ confuses many writers. These two words are similar in meaning. However, you use them in different ways.

‘Past’ can be a noun, adjective, preposition, and adverb.

‘Passed,’ on the other hand, is the ‘past’ tense form of ‘pass.’ 

Read this guide to understand better the difference between ‘passed’ vs ‘past.’ It contains usage examples, definitions, and other useful information to help you remember how to use these two confusing words. 

What is the Difference Between ‘Passed’ vs ‘Past?’

'Passed' is always the 'past' tense of the verb 'pass.' 'Past' can be a noun, adverb, adjective, or preposition.

Definitions: ‘Passed’ vs ‘Past’

‘Passed’ - ‘Past’ Tense form of the Verb ‘Pass’

‘Passed’ is the ‘past’ tense form of ‘pass,’ which is a verb. ‘Pass’ means to move something or cause something to move in a specific direction. For example: 

  • Will you ‘pass’ me the salt?
  • You have to ‘pass’ the test to graduate.
  • Be careful when you ‘pass’ cars. 
  • ‘Pass’ the ball if you can’t shoot your shot

‘Past’ - Noun

‘Past’ as a noun means a time that is before the present or the time before something is written or spoken about. For example: 

  • We enjoy reminiscing about the ‘past.’

‘Past’ - Adjective

As an adjective, ‘past’ refers to something that already happened or no longer exists. For example: 

  • The days of being fearful of sharing your opinions ‘past.’

‘Past’ - Preposition 

When you use ‘past’ as a preposition, it means beyond a specified point or time. ‘Past’ is often used as a preposition in directions or when describing a time. For example: 

  • We will meet you at half ‘past’ noon. 

‘Past’ - Adverb

You use can also use ‘past’ as an adverb, meaning to go beyond something. 

  • You will see our house when you go ‘past’ the bridge.
  • Travel ‘past’ the guard. 

Why are ‘Passed’ and ‘Past’ Confusing? 

The confusion between ‘passed’ vs ‘past’ usually occurs when writers use ‘past’ as an adverb. Here are some examples to help you see the difference.

Example 1: 

  • The car moved ‘past’ the intersection.
  • The car ‘passed’ the intersection. 

Example 2: 

  • The player ‘passed’ the ball. 
  • The ball flew ‘past’ the player. 

Final Advice on the Difference Between ‘Passed’ vs ‘Past’

Remembering the difference between ‘passed’ vs ‘past’ is challenging even for experienced writers. An easy way to remember the difference is that ‘passed’ is always a verb and ‘past’ is never a verb. 

For help remembering how to use confusing words, bookmark writingtips.org. You can use the site to verify spelling, definitions, and the meaning of popular idioms.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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