Remembrance of things …

Originally posted on Grammar Monkeys on Feb. 19, 2010

Has something “passed” you by? Was that in the “past”? Although it sounds the same as “passed,” “past” is not a form of the verb “pass,” and these two words are used in different situations.

Marcel Proust

The verb “pass” takes “passed” as its past-tense and past-participle forms:
Present tense: Please pass the turnips. And pass the pepper, too.
Past tense: The children were so eager to see the lions that they passed right by the monkey house.
Past participle: The earnest intern, passed over for a permanent position, decided to start her own business.

However, “past” is much more flexible: It can be a noun, an adjective, an adverb or a preposition.
Noun: We’re thankful the unpleasantness is all in the past now.
Adjective: The past tense of the verb “sing” is “sang.”
Adverb: We were sitting here as the speeding garbage truck hurtled past.
Preposition: Nothing gets past us!