Third Wednesday: The Past has Passed Us By

I see this error often.  The words sound alike, but their meaning is easy to confuse.  And they are not interchangeable.

Here’s the original sentence:

“When we looked at the pictures in our high school yearbook we realized how much time past us by.”


Past – a former time; beyond the extent of power, time, limits, or scope of something.

If you can’t make it to Samantha’s house before half past nine, you might as well meet us at the show.

When we look at past conflicts we should be able to learn new behaviors and lessons for civilization.

Past results show that shoving a potato in the tailpipe of a car will prevent the car from running.


Passed – move from one place, form or condition to another.

Geoffrey quickly passed the mashed potatoes to his mother so he could grab the drumstick before Randall reached the table.

We just passed our exit on the freeway and there’s no place to turn around for the next thirty miles.

We passed our tests and immediately decided to celebrate with a visit to Soupy’s Soda Shoppe.


Here’s another look at Past and Passed.


In the passed our ancestors rode horses or drove wagons to get to town.

Marvin past away before his thirtieth birthday.



Your past performance does not bode well for getting into the college of your choice.

If the red car passed us on the right we would not have been involved in the accident.


These two words aren’t hard to differentiate once you have their meanings clearly fixed in your mind.  Why don’t you come up with five example sentences using each word before the end of the week?