Passed vs Past: What’s the difference and how do you remember?

Sooo my love life is located firmly in the past at the moment, so happy Valentine’s day, and let’s move right on to the grammar tips!

How do you know when to use passed and past?

In English we have a lot of “homophones”, words that sound the same but have different meanings or spellings – and this is one of them.

The short explanation is that passed is a verb (a doing word) and past can be a preposition (a place/time word), an adjective (describing word), or even sometimes a noun (a thing/person/place).

Now for the longer explanation…

Passed = past tense of the verb “pass”

e.g. “Yesterday passed so quickly – I don’t know where the day went!”

e.g. “Have you passed the execs that report yet?”

e.g. “I hope we passed our quarterly audit.”

Past = preposition, adjective, or noun

Preposition

e.g. “It’s past 1 April now, so our rules about default insurance have changed.”

e.g. “I drove past the office but didn’t go in.”

Adjective

e.g. “Do you have any past reports that I could use as a template?”

Noun

e.g. “The past was a simpler time. In the past, we had different rules for who gets default insurance.”

The Past Is Your Secret Weapon - Memebase - Funny Memes
Image source: Cheezburger.com

How do you remember when to use passed vs past?

Did something actively happen to do the passing? If so, you need the verb passed.

Did nobody do anything? Then you probably need the preposition or adjective past.

Try it out for yourself if you want to – which word/s should go in this example?

This question has been passed/past over in the passed/past, so I wasn’t sure whether I should use a passed/past example or not.

Hopefully you passed/past my little quiz.

(C) TJ Withers-Ryan, 2022. Please credit me when you report/share, thanks!