June 10, 2015

Passed & Past : Grammar & Editing Tips

A few weeks ago, I posted about Homophones and Contractions. Homophones are words that sound alike (can be spelled alike or not) but have different meanings. 

As an editor, I fix tons of homophones in manuscripts. From time to time, I thought I'd feature some commonly misused homophones. 

Today, I'm going to discuss passed and past. 

Each word had over 15 possible definitions, so it's easier to discuss examples when they are often confused.

Passed is most often used as the past tense of pass.

My daughter passed her exam. On the way home, she passed her friend on the street.

Past can be a noun (meaning the time gone by), an adjective (completed, finished, no longer in existence), and an adverb (so as to pass or go by).

She had more homework than in years past. The ball sped past the pitcher.

Where I see it most confused is in the verb versus adverb usage.

He passed the mirror and winked at himself. (passed is a verb)
He walked past the mirror and winked at himself. (past is acting as adverb for walked)

Is there an editing/grammar issue that's always caused you trouble? If so, share it in the comments so I can feature it in a future post. 

Definitions from Dictionary.com

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