Difference Between Past and Passed

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: June 06, 2023


Difference Between Past and Passed

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It can be challenging for a speaker or listener to understand the meaning of many words in the English language. Although they usually give the impression that they can be used interchangeably, these words have very distinct meanings when they are used together in sentences. Certain words are often mixed up by English users while writing because they are spelled similarly or might be pronounced identically. Words having almost similar pronunciations are known as homophones. In this article, we will discuss two such words that might perplex readers while using them, they are- ‘Past’ and ‘Passed’. As homophones, ‘passed’ and ‘past’ has the same sound but different spellings and meanings.

The phrase "past" refers to "time before the present" and has various connotations. Additionally, it denotes a change in a reference point's position from one side to the other.  It can be used as a noun, an adjective, an adverb, or a preposition.

For Ex-

  • Let’s not talk about what happened in the past.             
  • I walked past your house last week.             
  • This event happened in the past.

The verb pass, which talks about moving through or into a place, a time, or about something that has happened, has a past tense, which is the word passed. There are numerous sentences in which the verbs ‘pass’ and ‘passed’ are used in conjunction with motion and time.

For Ex-

  • I heard your dog passed away, I’m very sorry.             
  • The time passed slowly while I was in the exam hall.             
  • The meeting passed without any interruptions.

Past vs Passed

The key difference to remember between these two identical terms is that the word "past" denotes the past tense. It references the past events that occurred before the present. When something passes you, such as time, a vehicle, or a person, it is said to have "passed" you. The past tense of the verb "pass" is "passed." Also, we never use the term ‘Past’ as a verb in a sentence but ‘Passed’ is always used in its verb form. ‘Past’ normally discusses time, while ‘passed’ typically discusses movement. Moreover, ‘Passed’ is just the past tense of the word ‘pass’ while ‘Past’ is used as a noun, an adjective, a preposition, or an adverb.

For Ex-

  • What were you doing at this time past year?              
  • We should not mention the past happenings right now.              
  • I walk past this building almost every day.              
  • It’s past your sleeping time wake up or you will be late for school. 

For Ex-

  • She passed her exams with flying colors.             
  • He passed me the water bottle as I asked him to.             
  • Fear passed through the students on seeing their results.             
  • I have passed the crossroad; I’ll arrive in 5 mins.

Difference between Past and Passed in Tabular form

Parameters of comparisonPastPassed
DefinitionWhen something has been finished, ended, passed by, or occurred in the past, we use the word past to indicate that it has happened.The verb passed is used to describe when something passes, elapses, succeeds, or progresses.
Part of speech We can use this term as a noun, an adjective, a preposition, or an adverb in a sentence.As it is the past tense of the word ‘pass’ it is often used as only a verb in a sentence.
IndicatesIt often indicates relations with time as it depicts events that happened in the past.It indicates a type of movement.
ExamplesWhen are you coming it’s already a quarter past 10.I don’t trust this brand as my past bad experience was not so good.Don’t submit your project past the deadline.I walk past this road daily.Harry passed the test sheets to the teacher.The teacher hasn’t arrived yet, more than 2 hours have passed.My car passed through the mall.I was very tired, I reached home and passed out.

What is ‘Past’?

When you talk about or write about the ‘past’, you are referring to the time frame that has passed or is no longer real. It can be used as a noun, adjective, preposition, or adverb. It also refers to a form of the verb. It usually depicts a certain point of time in a sentence.

How and when to use ‘Past’

When you are referring to a period that has already gone or is in the past now.

For Ex-

  • This is the highest rainfall recorded in the past 15 years.             
  • The examination results have increased in the past year.              
  • The company’s sales have been increasing for the past 3 years.

When specific minutes have passed after an hour, it can also be used to indicate the time.

For Ex-

  • It’s been a quarter past 2 but no one has arrived.             
  • I left for school by 8 past ten.
  • Let’s meet at half past 5.

Additionally, it could refer to anything that occurred to you over the previous week, month, or year.

For Ex-

  • I was here the past year also.             
  • She is the past principal of our school.             
  • You should not blame yourself but learn from the past.

It can also be used to refer to something that has gone by or ended.

For Ex-

  • The past week was very hectic due to meetings.              
  • Where was your past weekend?               
  • I ran past my professor's house.

It also signifies something that has gone beyond the specified limit.

For Ex-

  • It’s past your bedtime, go to sleep now!             
  • The examiner took the sheets as it was past the time limit.              
  • I can’t tolerate such actions it’s past my patience level.

It can be applied to describe a location that is beforehand of a particular point.

For Ex-

  • You can drop me here my college is just past this shop.              
  • My house is just past the metro station.              
  • You drove so fast the mall was near the past street.


  • Don’t call me past midnight I won’t be able to receive the call.
  • You drove past the toys shop.
  • He was the past president of our country.
  • Global warming levels are rising for the past 5 years.
  • I’ll meet you at quarter past 6.
  • The past year was full of ups and downs.
  • I love to hear stories from the past.
  • He walked past us and didn’t notice.
  • It’s past the curfew time I should go home.
  • Don’t work past your office hours.
  • She would do well in her job due to her past job experience.
  • Can you recall some of your past friends?

What is ‘Passed’?

Essentially, the term "passed" is just the past tense of the verb "pass," which carries a variety of connotations in English. It is, however, most frequently used to signify gone by, elapsed, or ended cleared, etc. It is used to describe a sense of movement in a sentence. It is only used as a verb in a sentence, unlike ‘Past’.

How and when to use ‘Passed’

When you are moving past someone or something.

For Ex-

  • If you pass by the library, please return this book.             
  • I saw you passed by me yesterday when I was waiting for my taxi.             
  • She didn’t mean to pass by you she must be in a hurry.
  • It can also be used to go beyond a set date or time.

For Ex-

  • You can’t register now as the entries have been passed.              
  • I was not able to fill out the exam form as the dates for filling are passed.              
  • Throw away the medicines if they have passed their expiry date.

To depict when someone crosses a record or achieves a milestone.

For Ex-

  • The streams for this song have passed 500 million.              
  • Our company has passed 50,000 orders.              
  • She passed her college entrance exam with the highest score.  

To provide, deliver, or communicate something to someone

For Ex-

  • Can you pass me the glass of water?              
  • My sister passed me the plate of fries.              
  • I passed the sheets to the students.

When you are depicting someone’s death.

For Ex-

  • Sorry to inform you but your cat has passed away.              
  • Her uncle passed away last week.              
  • Olaf’s aunt passed away due to lung cancer.

To show the approval of something like a law, bill, application, etc.

For Ex-

  • The parliament has passed a new law regarding the safety of citizens.               
  • My job application has been passed by the company.              
  • The government passed the scheme for the farmers.


  • My neighbor passed away last year due to diabetes.
  • She has passed your house; she must be arriving here.
  • The Right to Information Act was passed in 2005.
  • I passed the CA exam.
  • My mother passed me a glass of soda.
  • I saw you yesterday when you passed by driving a bike.
  • We passed the entrance to the mall.
  • The teacher passed the book so that students can have a better look at it.
  • I have passed the point where I don’t care what anyone else thinks about me.
  • The boats passed each other in the sea.
  • I passed my time yesterday by reading books and listening to music.
  • Have you passed that shop?
  • Our cars passed each other but we didn’t recognize it.
  • I passed the stationary shop on my way to school.
  • I can’t believe my friend passed away years ago.

Main differences between ‘Past and ‘Passed’ (in points)

  • The term "passed" is the past tense of the verb "pass," which means to cross, clear, transfer, or finish something. On the contrary, the word "past" denotes anything that already took place or existed in the past.
  • The verb "passed" is used to describe a direct action. This is the verb "pass" in both its simple past and past participle forms. In contrast, the term "past" is not a verb because there is no action; rather, it can be employed in sentences as an adjective, noun, adverb, or preposition.
  • When we talk about an incident that happened in the past or of prior time we should use ‘Past’. Whereas, while talking about a movement of something or someone use the word ‘Passed’ in the sentence.
  • Examples of ‘Past’-
    • The past year has been full of achievements.                                 
    • We walked past the coffee shop.                                   
    • It’s past working hours let’s go home.
  • Examples of ‘Passed’-
    • I passed my job interview and got the job.                                     
    • My cousin passed away due to serious health issues.                                      
    • The date to claim the free offer was passed so I didn’t  get it.


In writing or speaking, several confusing expressions are employed in English grammar that might be perplexing to the user. Nevertheless, to employ them correctly in a phrase without making any mistakes or being unclear, it is important to grasp their principles and usage. While some of these complicated words, known as homophones, have similar pronunciations, their meanings, and ways of being used in sentences vary. This article discussed the homophonic words- ‘Past’ and ‘Passed’ and gave you an overview of their basic definitions, the key differences between them, how and when to use them in a sentence along with several examples to better understand their usage in an expression. The primary distinction between passed and past is that, as opposed to past, which ends in a 't' sound, passed has a 'd' sound at the end. Additionally, the term passed is nothing more than the past tense of the verb pass, even though past is a form of the verb.

The term "past" designates an interval of time before the present and can be used as an adjective or noun. It can also be a preposition or an adverb that refers to the future.

For Ex-

  • Where were you for the past 2 weeks?              
  • I saw you walk past the coffee shop yesterday.              
  • It’s past your video game playing time, turn it off.

The past tense of the verb "pass," which denotes movement past or omission of something or someone, is "passed." Additionally, it might indicate success or send something to someone.

For Ex-

  • I passed my semester exams with good grades this year.             
  • The government passed a law for women’s empowerment.             
  • The students passed the exams with average grades this semester.


  1. http://www.enhancemywriting.com/passed-vs-past  
  2. https://medium.com/writetoedit/past-vs-passed-87c7de4deb93  
  3. https://www.toppr.com/guides/english-grammar/confusing-words/past-vs-passed/  
  4. https://writingexplained.org/passed-vs-past-difference  
  5. https://www.oxfordinternationalenglish.com/passed-vs-past-whats-the-difference/  
  6. https://languagetool.org/insights/post/word-choice-passed-or-past/


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"Difference Between Past and Passed." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 22 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-past-and-passed>.

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