Should you spell the word as ‘passersby’ or ‘passerbys’? And what’s the difference between the two spellings? We’ll clear that up below, plus teach you how to use the correct spelling of the word in a sentence.
Don’t wanna wait around for the answer? Here’s the quick one.
‘Passersby’ is the correct way to spell the word. ‘Passerbys’ is incorrect and should not be used in your writing. This spelling is ungrammatical.
We’ve already covered that ‘passersby’ is the only correct way to spell the word. Any other spelling of the word would be ungrammatical and incorrect.
It’s correct to say ‘passerby’ when referring to a single person passing by.
But when talking about more than one person passing by, you’d use ‘passersby.’
This is similar to words and phrases such as:
The opposite is true for words like:
You'll notice that this word doesn't follow the standard rules for pluralization, which usually means adding an 's' or 'es' to the end of a word.
You’ve already learned that ‘passersby’ is correct. ‘Passerby’ is the singular form of the word ‘passersby.’
Now, what about ‘passerbyers’? Is that a real word?
In short, no. This is not a recognized word in the English language and should not be used.
Let’s quickly define the word, so we know how to use it in a sentence later.
The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘passerby’ is: “one who passes by.”
The first known use of the word was in 1567, and it meant the same thing it means today.
The first known use of the word was in 1567, and it meant the same thing it means today. It comes from the late 13th-century word passen, a transitive verb that meant ‘to go by (something)’ and ‘to cross over.’ It’s also from the Old French verb passer, which means ‘to pass.’ That comes from the 11th century.
It has roots in Vulgar Latin with the verb passare, which means ‘to step, walk, pass.’ The Latin word passus also has influenced the word, and it means ‘step, pace.’
'Passersby' should be pronounced PA SRZ BAI.
The first syllable should have a short 'a' sound, similar to words like:
The second syllable sounds like 'SIRS.'
The final syllable sounds like 'BYE' or 'BY.'
Now, let’s look at how to use the word in a sentence correctly. Here are some examples.
Remember, these words cannot be used interchangeably because only one is actually considered a word. And when you want to refer to a single person passing by, you’d simply use ‘passerby.’
Now that you know the difference between the two (that one is correct and one is incorrect), as well as how to use the correct spelling of the word in a sentence, you can use the above examples as a guide when crafting your own sentences.
English can be a tough language to learn. That’s why we have a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases that commonly cause confusion among non-native (and even some native) English speakers.
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