Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Past and Passed

Past vs Passed

The differences between “past” and “passed” are that “past” refers to the past tense. It refers to the events which took place before the present time. “Passed” is the past tense of the word “pass” which means something went by you, like time, or a car, or a person. The uses are diverse and can be explained by examples as well as with the help of dictionary meanings.

It is used as an adverb, adjective, noun, and as prepositions.
Past used as an adjective:

Passed in time or gone by, example:

The years of recession were bad but it is in the past.

Events which happened before the present existing time, example:

The glorious past of the Indus valley civilization…

Something which has just gone by, example:

The economy recovered the past year.

Formerly served as, example:

The past CEOs of the company…

Past used as a noun:

Time or event or features which represent an earlier time in history, example:

The hippies’ fashion is a thing of the past.

An event in the life of a person which is embarrassing or shameful, example:

His criminal past is behind him now.

Past used as an adverb:

Beyond, example:

The troops marched past.

Past used as prepositions:

Half past 7:00; the school is just past the farm; they went past the church; past the minimum age; past the chance of recovery.


“Passed” is used as an adjective and as a verb.

Passed used as an adjective:

It may be used as:

To finish a course and not fail, example; a passed exam.
To finish a Navy exam: A passed naval officer.

Passed used as a verb:

“Passed” is used as a verb in many diverse ways. We will look at some of them just to get an idea:

To move past, example:

We passed a car on the freeway.

Here we can contrast the use with “past” and learn the difference between the two. When we have to use “past” in such a sentence like, “We went past a car on the freeway,” it is used as a preposition and not a verb.

To undergo something or to have endured something, example:

He passed the worst day of his life.

Here we can contrast the use and meaning of “past” by making a similar sentence using “past” as an adjective. For example, “The worst day of his life is in the past.”

To march by or to move by, example:

We passed the troops on the road.

Here we can show the difference by using “past” as an adverb: “The troops marched past, and we passed them on the road.”

Verb phrases: passed away, passed for, passed along.


1.“Past” is used as an adjective, noun, adverb, and as a preposition. “Passed” is used as adjective, verb, and verb phrases. The use of “passed” as a verb is very diverse.
2.“Past” refers to a time or event which happened before the existing present time. It is explained and expressed as a contrast to the future and present time. “Passed” refers to something, someone, or some event passing us by.

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  1. What is the difference between THAT and WHICH, as in:
    The sky that is blue
    – versus –
    The sky which is blue.

  2. I’ve found fantastic explanations on this site; however, this one falls seriously below my expectation. I’m still unclear how the words are correctly used. Therefore, I’ve taken the time to respond, in hopes that this post might be edited and improved.

    Could you please explain these terms without using the words in the definition? e.g., Past means “passed in time or gone by…” and passed means “to move past…”. Confusing! It’s like saying red means red.

    I thought I was understanding the difference until this example: “Here we can show the difference by using “past” as an adverb: ‘The troops marched past, and we passed them on the road’.”. Why is “past” used after “troops marched” if “passed” is actually the correct word for “refer[ring] to something, someone, or some event passing us by”?

    Also, use of headers and a more logical organisation of your examples would certainly aid comprehension.

    Thank you for all the other posts. I’ll keep coming back!

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