Past vs. Passed

Past and passed, while they sound the same, are not interchangeable.

Past is usually used as an adjective, and is always used before a noun. (“He was hired based on his past experience.”)

Passed is the past tense of the verb pass. (“I passed the vehicle in the left lane.”) Passed would have been the correct word choice in this context.

Aside from the misuse of the word past, what is this poet/hymn writer trying to say? Is he trying to inspire me with the word IF? IF I live till tomorrow? What makes you think I won’t make it, Bill? That, and the missing comma after tomorrow, leaves me highly uninspired.

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2 Comments

Filed under homophones, punctuation, word choice

2 responses to “Past vs. Passed

  1. Kathryn

    He’d certainly receive low marks today. But I’m pretty sure I’ve seen “past” used in place of “passed” in other 18th century poetry–the distinction between the two spellings seems to have come into being after that. And the comma–well, I’m rereading Jane Austen and, boy howdy! The rules for comma use appear to have changed drastically over the last two centuries!

    But, yeah, the sentiment itself pretty much belongs on a Hallmark greeting card. One of the icky inspirational ones, with a photograph of something inapposite on the front.

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