Skip to Content

Passed vs. Past: Differences, Definitions, and Example Sentences

Distinguishing these Homophones:

Two very commonly confused words are the tricksters known as passed vs. past. They sound exactly the same, but have mightily different meanings.

Yes, that means they’re homophones! Let’s dive into how to tell the difference between the two, and use them correctly so that your sentences means exactly what you desire.

Passed in a sentence
“Passed” used in a sentence and illustrated.

Passed: Meaning and Definition

The word “Passed” is the past tense (eek — there’s the homophone “past”) of the verb “to pass.” It means moved across, through, or from one place or thing to another.

This can be in the dimension of time, space, states of being. Here are examples to clarify, emphasizing how each demonstrates an instance of moving from one thing to another.

Examples of “Passed” in Sentences

1. The snail passed in front of the woman at such a rapid pace, the “zip” sound almost knocked her onto the grass!

  • “Passed” is used here because the meaning is that the snail is moving from one side of the woman to the other (passing in front).

2. She passed all of her tests with high grades because she used metacognition strategies to study effectively.

  • This is an example of moving across a threshold: the 60% cut-off to a grade that divides failure from success, so the word “passed” is used.

3. The whale passed away after eating 4,000 hot dogs. To keep whales alive, it’s important to educate them about the importance of healthy eating.

  • The phrase “passing away” is about crossing over from the state of being alive to no longer alive.

4. During the basketball game, the dragon passed me the ball, and I caught it. He was so proud of me, that later he passed along all his old, former basketball jerseys for me to wear, since he’d outgrown them and wanted them to go to good use.

  • In both instances of “passed” above, an object is physically moving from the dragon to the narrator as it is given away: first the ball, then the jerseys.

5. The teacher passed out the tests to her students so fast that she became exhausted. That afternoon when she returned home, she was so tired that she passed out on the sofa and slept until the next morning.

  • Here are two different ways to use “passed out.” You can physically pass something out to someone (crossing the threshold from it being in your hand, to being in someone else’s), or you can use the expression “pass out” to mean fall asleep or faint — both of which are crossing the threshold into unconsciousness from consciousness.
Past used in a sentence
“Past,” used in a sentence.

Past: Meaning, Definition, and Examples

“Past” is a much more complicated word to define, because it is used in numerous different ways. Some of these ways seem similar to “passed,” but it’s important to note, in the dilemma of which to use, that they can never be used interchangeably.

A.) Past as a NOUN: A period of time that happened before. (Ex: “My snail racing days are in the past.”)

B.) Past as an ADJECTIVE: Done, over, finished. (Ex: “In past years, I raced snails.”)

C.) Past as an ADVERB: To go by or pass by. (Ex: “The snails race past.”)

D.) Past as a PREPOSITION: Further than a place, age, or time. (Ex: “The snail race will begin at half past eleven.”)

Passed vs. Past
On Pinterest? Pin this to save and share this “Passed vs. Past” lesson!

Using “Passed” vs. “Past” Correctly

Ready for the real test? Let’s use BOTH “passed” AND “past” TOGETHER in sentences, to see the different ways they function!

1. In past years, I passed time through pastimes like drawing and doodling, but these days my hobbies involve more active exploits like weightlifting.

2. I’m past caring about whether the veggies have passed their expiration dates. I will eat droopy carrots gladly, as long as they don’t go to waste.

3. When I passed through town, it became clear the era of apologizing to someone was in the past, as everyone who bumped into me didn’t bother to say “Sorry!”

Passed vs. Past VIDEO:

Other English Lessons for Learning:

Homophones Word List:

Literary Terms and ELA Vocabulary:

Can You Tell the “Passed” vs. “Past” Difference Now?

I hope this “Passed” vs. “Past” lesson has been useful to you to tell the difference between these tricky homophones. Do you have a request for another English lesson for me to illustrate? Do share your request!


Friday 16th of April 2021

Could the English language be any more confusing lol! I always write weather when I mean to write whether, partly out of habit but this one is also a good lesson! Thanks for the refresher!

Lillie Marshall

Friday 16th of April 2021

You're welcome and happy to refresh! The English language is confusing indeed.


Wednesday 14th of April 2021

What a fun and helpful post! Love your explanation, and the drawings.

Lillie Marshall

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Appreciate your kind words, Biana!


Tuesday 13th of April 2021

What a great way to distinguish these two words. I do see them misused frequently, so this will be helpful to people of all ages!

Lillie Marshall

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

It's such a common writing error and typo! Glad you find it helpful.