Confusing “Passed” with “Past”
Reader Peggy Lanahan asks
Is it correct to say, “how does the food always get passed the bib? or past the bib”?
The frequent confusion between the words passed and past is understandable. They are pronounced alike and have similar meanings. Careful writers need to find some trick for remembering the difference.
Both words derive from the same Latin noun: passus “step, pace.” From that noun came a Vulgar Latin verb passare “to step” or “to walk.” English took the word from Old French passer.
The form passed is the past participle of the verb to pass.
Pass can be used transitively:
I passed the church on my way to the store.
He passed through life without a care.
Intransitive pass is also used as a euphemism for “die,” as in When did your father pass?
The word past can be used as an adjective:
Don’t hold grudges for past offenses.
as an adverb:
I thought he would stop, but he just ran past.
and as a preposition:
How does the food always get past the bib?
For more on Past vs Passed, read this post by Ali.
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