Word Confusion: Pass vs Passed vs Past

Posted November 4, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

NO. NO, no, no, no, no…how can anyone confuse these three!?? It drives me crazy. These are so BASIC!! PEOPLE!?!?!

Now that I got that out of my system, I actually can understand how these three words can sound alike. And Lord knows there are plenty of people out there who do confuse pass, passed, and past. However. That is no excuse when writing them. Do not pass Go if you have been confused in the past as to whether your choice passed or not! Always check, even if only as a brief mental pause.

What if we take a look at the following: Can be interpreted as:
He went pass. Huh? For one, it needs verb agreement. For another, it sounds like someone for whom English is a second language or…
He went passed. He went and passed out? Nope, something’s still missing.
He went past. Ah, now I want to know what he went past. Perhaps he passed a train, or maybe a plane, or even a brain!!
until the prophecy came to pass until it happened
until the prophecy passed What? Did the prophecy die? Was it drunk?
until the prophecy came past Maybe became past. Although it sounds rather pretentious: until the prophecy became past?? Nope, dorky. And I don’t think the prophecy is a physical entity… I simply cannot see Prophecy driving past me in a car, nope, can’t do it.
Head ’em off at the pass! I do like this one! It reminds me of old Westerns.
Head ’em off at the passed! Huh? The cemetery? A pile of unconscious bodies?
Head ’em off at the past! If you’re Doctor Who, you can take your time machine and do just that.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Pass Passed Past
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Image courtesy of Bleacher Report

Andrew Luck about to make a pass.


Image courtesy of PatLabels Online

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1, 2; Verb 1, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: passes
Past tense or past participle: passed
Gerund or present participle: passing

Past tense and past participle of: pass


Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: passes
Gerund or present participle: passing

Adjective;
Adverb;
Noun;
Preposition
Noun:
A route over or through mountains

In place names

A passage for fish over or past a weir or dam

  • [U.S.] A navigable channel, especially at the mouth of a river

An act or instance of moving past or through something

  • [Informal A flirtatious act
  • An act of passing the hands over anything, as in conjuring or hypnotism
  • A thrust in fencing
  • A juggling trick
  • [Bridge] An act of refraining from bidding during the auction
  • Computing] A single scan through a set of data or a program

A successful completion of an examination or course

  • [U.S.] The grade indicating this
  • [British] An achievement of a university degree without honors

A card, ticket, or permit giving authorization for the holder to enter or have access to a place, form of transportation, or event

[In football, soccer, hockey, and other games] An act of throwing, kicking, or hitting the ball or puck to another player on the same team

A state or situation of a specified, usually bad or difficult, nature

Verb, intransitive:
Move or cause to move in a specified direction

  • Change from one state or condition to another
  • [Euphemistic, chiefly North American] Die

Go past or across

  • Leave behind or on one side in proceeding
  • Go beyond the limits of
    • Surpass
    • Exceed
  • [Tennis] Hit a winning shot past an opponent

[Of time or a point in time] Elapse

  • Go by

Be transferred from one person or place to another, especially by inheritance

  • [In football, soccer, hockey, and other games] Throw, kick, or hit (the ball or puck) to another player on one’s own team
  • Put (something, especially money) into circulation
  • [Especially of money] Circulate
    • Be current:

[Of a candidate] Be successful in (an examination, test, or course)

  • Be accepted as adequate
    • Go uncensured
  • [Pass as/for] Be accepted as or taken for

[Of a legislative or other official body] Approve or put into effect (a proposal or law) by voting on it

  • [Of a proposal or law] Be examined and approved by (a legislative body or process)

Pronounce (a judgment or judicial sentence)

  • [Pass on/upon; archaic] Adjudicate or give a judgment on:

Forgo one’s turn in a game or an offered opportunity

  • [As exclamation] Said when one does not know the answer to a question, for example in a quizzing game
  • [Bridge] Make no bid when it is one’s turn during an auction

Verb, transitive:
Move or cause to move in a specified direction

  • Change from one state or condition to another
  • [Euphemism; chiefly North American] Die

Go past or across

  • Leave behind or on one side in proceeding
  • Go beyond the limits of
    • Surpass
    • Exceed
  • [Tennis] Hit a winning shot past (an opponent)

[Of time or a point in time] Elapse

  • Go by
  • Spend or use up (a period of time)
  • Come to an end

Transfer (something) to someone, especially by handing or bequeathing it to the next person in a series

  • [In football, soccer, hockey, and other games) throw, kick, or hit (the ball or puck) to another player on one’s own team
  • Put (something, especially money) into circulation

[Of a candidate] Be successful in (an examination, test, or course)

  • Judge the performance or standard of (someone or something) to be satisfactory

[Of a legislative or other official body] Approve or put into effect (a proposal or law) by voting on it

Pronounce (a judgment or judicial sentence)

  • Utter (something, especially criticism)

Discharge (something, especially urine or feces) from the body

Forgo one’s turn in a game or an offered opportunity

  • [Of a company] Not declare or pay a dividend
  • [Bridge] Make no bid in response to (one’s partner’s bid)
Verb, intransitive:
For definitions, see the column to the left.

Verb, transitive:
For definitions, see the column to the left.

Adjective:
Gone by in time and no longer existing

  • [Attrib.] Belonging to a former time
  • [Attrib.; of a specified period of time] Occurring before and leading up to the time of speaking or writing
  • [Grammar; of a tense] Expressing an action that has happened or a state that previously existed

Adverb:
Pass from one side of something to the other

  • Used to indicate the lapse of time

Noun:
[Usually the past] The time or a period of time before the moment of speaking or writing

  • The history of a person, country, or institution
  • [Informal] A part of a person’s history that is considered to be shameful

[Grammar] A past tense or form of a verb

Preposition:
To or on the further side of

  • In front of or from one side to the other of
  • Beyond in time
    • Later than
  • No longer capable of
  • Beyond the scope of
Examples:
Noun:
Head ’em off at the pass!

He made a pass at me.

It took repeated passes with the swipe card to get it to work.

An unmarked plane had been making passes over his house.

She made a pass at Stephen.

The scanner made a pass over the image.

We have a 100 percent pass rate.

So, did George ever pass?

We got three backstage passes!

He made a pass to the wide receiver.

This is a sad pass for a fixture that used to crackle with excitement.

Things have come to a pretty pass.

The pass over the mountain was open again after the snows. 2

We went over the Khyber Pass.

A fish pass makes it easier for fish to migrate upstream or to get through a barrier.

There were two battles during the Civil War at the Sabine Pass.

Verb, intransitive:
The shells from the Allied guns were passing very low overhead.

We will not let you pass.

Infections can pass from mother to child at birth.

If Ann remarried the estate would pass to her new husband.

Cash was passing briskly.

She couldn’t agree, but let it pass.

He could pass for a native of Sweden.

A jury could not be trusted to pass upon the question of Endicott’s good faith.

To the enigmatic question we answered Pass.

We waited until the prophecy came to pass.

Verb, transitive:
The stage direction says he should pass a weary hand across his forehead.

You should pass an electric current through it.

Did she pass away peacefully in her sleep?

The two vehicles had no room to pass each other.

Please pass the fish.

Passing judgment on these crucial issues requires great thought.

It is now my duty to pass sentence upon you.

She would pass remarks about the Paxtons in their own house.v
Please track the frequency of your passing urine.

Verb, intransitive:
We passed on dessert and had coffee.

Her rather revealing dress passed without comment.

The bill passed by 164 votes to 107.

The day and night passed slowly.

The moment had passed.

This fact has passed almost unnoticed.

His father had passed to the afterlife.

A good and decent man has passed on.

He passed through towns and villages.

Verb, transitive:
He passed on last month.

That jerk passed me again!

That girl parties too hard—she’s passed out again.

The company passed on paying a dividend again this year.

East had passed his partner’s opening bid of one club.

He passed her a cup.

These are persons of interest who have passed bad checks.

She passed her driving test.

He was passed fit by army doctors.

The bill was passed despite fierce opposition.

This item has passed its sell-by date.

This was how they passed the time.

Your letter has been passed to Mr. Rich for action.

She passed a rest area with a pay phone.

Homes that have passed from public to private ownership.

Adjective:
It’s past time.

The danger is now past.

They made a study of the reasons why past attempts had failed.

He is a past chairman of the society.

The band has changed over the past twelve months.

The past tense expresses an action that has happened or a state that previously existed.

Adverb:
Even a child on a trike could speed past that car.

That jerk who passed me before? Well, he went past again!

Several large angelfish swam slowly past.

A week went past and nothing changed.v
Noun:
The past is over and done with.

She had found it hard to make ends meet in the past.

The war-damaged church is preserved as a reminder of the past.

The monuments act as guidelines through the country’s colorful past.

The heroine was a lady with a past.

Passed is the past tense form of pass.

Preposition:
Let me past!

He rode on past the crossroads.

He began to drive slowly past the houses.

By this time it was finally past 3:30.

He is past giving the best advice.

My hair was past praying for.

Derivatives:
Adjective: passless
Noun: passage, subpass
Verb: outpass, passage
Noun: pastness
Phrasal Verb
pass someone by
pass off
pass something off
pass someone
pass something off as
pass out
pass someone over
pass something over
pass something up
History of the Word:
1 Middle English from the Old French passer, which is based on the Latin passus meaning pace.

2 Middle English, in the sense of division of a text, passage through and influenced by the first verb definition and French pas.

Middle English variant of passed and a past participle of pass

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Nostalgia” is by Paul Bica from Toronto, Canada, [CC BY 2.0] with an old “Phone Booth” by Angela Marie from NRW/Germany [CC BY 2.0] which runners in the “Air Force Marathon” are both past and about to pass by U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos (120915-F-KX404-139), which is in the public domain, all via Wikimedia Commons.


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