S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting PASSED the PAST

I have a terrible time using these words correctly.  There is no logical explanation why I can’t grasp how each is used, other than to say I have an obvious mental block.  (probably one developed in my past, that I must learn to pass over!)  The really strange thing is no matter how many times I read the rules, they just don’t stick and I find myself looking them up again.  So… if any of you are like me, here’s a helpful cheat sheet:   

Past – relates to location

The word past locates something in time, and sometimes in space. It can be
used as an adjective, noun, or adverb.
“Past” as an adjective
The first definition which the OED gives for past as an adjective is “Gone by in time; elapsed; done with; over.” For example:
·                       “The days for mourning are now past.”
When attributed to a group of people, past can also mean “Having served one’s term of office; former.” (OED)
·                       “All past presidents of the United States were male.”
And in grammar, we have more examples of past being used as an adjective, such as in “past tense” and “past participle”.
“Past” as a noun
The main meaning for the noun form of past, given by the OED, is “The time that has gone by; a time, or all of the time, before the present.”
·                       “In the past, standards were higher.”
·                       “We cannot live in the past.”
“Past” as a preposition
As a preposition, past can mean: “Beyond in time; after; beyond the age for or time of; (in stating the time of day) so many minutes, or a quarter or half of an hour, after a particular hour.” (OED)
·                       “It is almost half past five.”
It can also be used for location: “Beyond in place; further on than; at or on the further side of; to a point beyond.” (OED)
·                       “My house is the one just past the turning.”
“Past” as an adverb
The first meaning the OED cites for past being used as an adverb is “So as to pass or go by; by.” For example:
·                       “The ball sped past the goalkeeper.”

Passed – a verb in the past tense

Passed is the past participle of the verb “to pass”. It can be an intransitive verb (one which doesn’t require an object) or a transitive verb (one which requires both a subject and one or more objects).
“To pass” means “To proceed, move forward, depart; to cause to do this.” (OED) This can refer to movement forwards in time, in space, or in life (such as “to pass an examination”).
For example:
·                       “The weeks passed quickly.” (Intransitive: subject “the weeks” and no object).
·                       “I passed all my exams!” (Transitive: subject “I” and object “my exams”.)
·                       “He passed the ball well during the match earlier.” (Transitive: subject “He” and object “the ball”.)

When do “past” and “passed” get confused?

Often, writers muddle the words past and passed in sentences such as:
·                       “The heroes passed a village on their way towards the mountains.”
It’s common to see this written as:
·                       “The heroes past a village on their way towards the mountains.”
But the word should be passed, as (in this sentence) it’s the past participle of the verb “to pass”. An easy way to tell is to rewrite the sentence in the present tense, as though you’re describing something which is happening currently:
·                       “The heroes pass a village on their way towards the mountains.”
·                       or “The heroes are passing a village on their way towards the mountains.”
However, if you wrote:
·                       “The heroes walked past a village on their way towards the mountains.”
It’s correct to use past. The verb in this sentence is “walked”, and the “past” is acting as an adverb.

Unusual uses of the word “passed”

Most of the time, passed is a verb, as described above. There are a few occasions when it can be used as a noun or an adjective, though. For example:
·                       “Don’t speak ill of the passed.” (noun)
- This comes from the phrase “passed-away”.
·                       “A passed pawn” (adjective)
- Term used in chess.
·                       “A passed ball” (adjective)
- Term used in baseball.
·                       “A passed midshipman/fireman/surgeon” (adjective)
- Someone who has passed a period of instruction and qualified through examination – apparently this usage arose in the navy.

1 comment:

  1. And then there's:
    "Our hero passed a village, which was even more painful than the kidney stone he had passed earlier."


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