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Oh boy, this is a problem for me. I don’t know why I can’t remember which word to use, passed or past, but I simply can’t. I’ve had to look up the definition every time I’ve used it. So, I have to give credit for the information in this post to Grammar Monster. I won’t relay all of their in-depth explanations they provide regarding these two verbs, but I will pass along their “hot tips”.

Each time I’ve looked up the definition of passed and past, I marvel at the numerous meanings of these two words. It is no wonder I get so confused. But it is when I refer to movement, or moving by something, that I get baffled.

I drove by him on my way to school./I passed him on my way to school./I drove past him on my way to school.

All of those sentences indicate moving by someone or something, and they all can use some form of passed/past.

According to Grammar Monster, you can check if you used passed correctly by substituting went past and sometimes gone past. So, let’s try that in the sentence where I used passed.

I [went past]/ passed him on my way to school. That makes sense, so, hooray for me! I used passed correctly!

Another way to determine which word you need is to check if you have already used a verb in your sentence. If you have, then you use past and not passed.

Marley ran past the bus stop.

The cat scurried past.

Don’t walk quickly past the garden or you’ll miss the beautiful array of flowers.

Since I used ran, scurried, walk in the sentences above, I needed to use the word past. This will always be the case if another verb is used in a sentence.


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It seems my confusion comes in to play when motion by something is concerned. Whereas using past when referring to time is less confusing. With the help of the hints I found on Grammar Monster, I just might be able to leave this confusion in my past.