Difference Between Passed and Past (With Table)

Homophones in the English Language plays a crucial role while speaking and writing. Homophones are those set of words that has the same pronunciation while their respective meaning differs.

Especially, speaking cannot make any difference to the listener as the pronunciation remain the same. However, the context shall be completely diverted as they both have a different meaning altogether.

Many such words in the English Language ought to be known their differences. It can set the vocabulary correct at the same time, mean the same as you say or write.

One such pair of words that people may confuse is Passed and Past. The pronunciation of these two words are similar, however, they have two different meanings and used in different contexts too.

Passed vs Past

The difference between Passed and Past is that the word ‘Passed’ is mostly related to movement or motion while the word ‘Past’ is related to time.


Comparison Table Between Passed and Past (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonPassedPast
FunctionThe word ‘passed’ denotes the motion of something in the English Language.The word ‘past’ denotes the time that was already over in the English Language.
Grammatical Forms‘Passed’ is a Verb and in fact past tense of the word ‘Pass’‘Past’ had different grammatical forms.
1.   Adjective
2.  Noun
3.  Adverb
4.  Preposition
Time Factor‘Passed’ denotes the time factor as if it had occurred just now. It is a past participle and has its essence in it.
For E.g.
1.     The time passed easily last night.
‘Past’ denotes the distance past most of the instances.
For E.g.
1.     They analysed why the Past tests failed.
Movement FactorIt denotes all forms of movement, right from literal movement physically till the state change. It denotes the movement in the past but that has happened a few minutes before.
For E.g.
1.    Lilly passed by the college.
‘Past’ denotes the movement factor that happened in the time well before it is spoken or written.
For E.g.
1.     John went past college.
StateThe word ‘Past’ always indicates something that happened now or a few seconds before. It is a real-time mention of something that had happened and still exists.The word ‘Past’ always denotes something that has happened in the past and no longer exists.


When to Use Passed?

‘Passed’ is a word in the English Language that is connected with motion in most of the situations. It is indeed past tense of the word ‘Pass’.

The word ‘Passed’ has different meanings in different contexts. Primarily it denotes the ‘movement’ that has occurred in a situation.

There are varieties of motions in the English Language.

  1. Move from One place to Another

For E.g.

  1. John passed through many hills and villages to arrive here.
  2. Lilly passed the railway station just now.
  1. Movement can also be referred to as change of state.

For E.g.

  1. These lands are passed from one owner to the other.
  2. This company is passed from private ownership to Government.
  1. Alive to the dead is also a change of state

For E.g.

  1. He passed while I was about to bring him some water.
  2. He passed last night.

There are many forms of motions or movement. At times transferring one place to another can also be denoted by the word ‘Passed’.

For E.g.

  1. The letter of request is passed to the manager.
  2. The land is passed to the son as he is the legal heir of Mr William Whittle.

There are instances the word ‘Passed’ can also denote the time factor. However it also closely resembles the motion.

For E.g.

  1. The night passed very fast.
  2. John and Lilly passed the time watching TV.

When to Use Past?

‘Past’ is a word in the English Language that indicates the time factor. In fact, ‘Past’ shows the clear difference from the other two forms of time; Present and Future.

Unlike, ‘Passed’, The word ‘Past’ has different grammatical functions. It can be a Noun, an Adjective,  Adverb and a Preposition.

As a Noun, the word ‘Past’ clearly denotes something that has happened before the time of speaking or writing.

For E.g.

  1. She used to study well in the past.
  2. She was playing wonderful Tennis in the past.

Here, the word ‘Past’ acts a noun that says ‘she’ studied well before and not now, while the next sentence says, ‘she’ plays good tennis before and not now.

At the same time, when using the word ‘past’ as an adjective, it indicates something that is over.

For E.g.

  1. The concepts of integrity and responsibility belong to the past.

Both sentences indicate that something that was existing is no longer available now.

‘Past’ while used as a preposition has a dual meaning and the context also differs. It indicates position as well as time.

For E.g.

  1. John drove on past the crossroads.
  2. It is twenty past 3 now.

Similarly, as an Adverb, the word ‘past’ has dual usage. One denoting the movement while the other indicating the time.

For E.g.

  1. The cars went past just now.
  2. A month went past and there is no result yet.

There is various usage for the word ‘Past’ as it can be seen. The more proficient users can easily understand the difference between ‘Passed’ and ‘Past’ while they sound similar while speaking.

Main Differences Between Passed and Past

  1. The main difference between ‘Passed’ and ‘Past’ is, ‘Passed’ is associated with the contexts of movement while ‘Past’ denotes the time of happening, and it is always in the past.
  2. They both differ in their grammatical form too, ‘Passed’ is a verb and it is a past tense of the Pass while Past has different grammatical functionalities like a noun, adjective, preposition and an adverb.
  3. The indication of time is available in both words. Passed refers to the time that has passed by shortly while Past denotes a certain event that has happened in the distant past.
  4. While denoting movement, ‘Passed’ denotes all types of movements and also mentions it on a real-time basis while Past denotes a movement that had happened in the distant past.
  5. The context of the statement and the object of mention has a real-time existence even after speaking while using the word past the real-time existence of the entity is missing.



Homophones are tricky and it is inevitable to know the clear differences between the two sets of words. Both Passed and Past have a different meaning altogether. There are interception points where the difference can be identified subtly. The difference lies in the space factor. While ‘Passed’ denotes everything on a real-time basis, the word ‘past’ denotes everything that has happened in the past.

The strange aspect is, the neutral way of pronouncing these two words, does not make much of a difference. Only in writing it can be easily identified. Nevertheless, knowing the right usage is always appreciated rather using faulty language.


  1. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/passed
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/past
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