Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about "past" and "passed." These words can be commonly confused because they have very similar pronunciations, but they have different grammatical functions. I'm going to talk about maybe some of the most confusing points about these words. Let's get started! Okay.
First, I want to look at the word "past," P-A-S-T.
So, "past" has a few different parts of speech that it's commonly used in.
In this lesson; I'm going to look at "past" as an adjective, as a noun, and as a preposition.
First, let's take a look at how we use "past as an adjective."
So, we use past as an adjective, meaning, it modifies nouns, to mean something that happened or existed before the present. So a reminder, the present is now. Something, "past" is something that happened before now, so yesterday, last week, last weekend, last year. So we use "past" as an adjective with a noun to explain something that happened or existed in the past.
Some examples:
"Which of your past jobs was the most challenging?"
So here, past modifies "jobs." That means jobs you had before, so before now, your past jobs. "Which of your past jobs (in the past) was the most challenging?"
The next example:
"In past meetings, we talked about hiring new staff."
Here, "past" is modifying "meetings," so that means "meetings before now." In those meetings (plural), in those meetings, we talked about hiring new staff, getting new staff members. So "past," in this way, refers to something that happened before now, or it can refer to something that existed before now.
Let's continue to the next use of "past as an adjective."
So we use "past" to mean "ago" or "time that has gone by."
So, let's look at some examples of this.
First one:
"I've been working on this project for the past 2 weeks."
Here, you'll notice, I'm using this, "I've been working" pattern. So, this is a present perfect progressive pattern. This shows us, I started working on the project 2 weeks ago, and "I've been working" refers to continuous work for those 2 weeks. So that means my start point was in the past, which I'll talk about later. My starting point was 2 weeks ago and I've been working, I continued working until now, the present. So, this refers to time that has gone by. So this time period, we kind of explained that with "past," the past 2 weeks. This "the past 2 weeks" means the most recent, the past 2 weeks, the past hour, the past week, the past month. That means this most recent week or this most recent time period, whatever that is. So, "the past 2 weeks" means this time that has gone by.
One more example of this:
"We met for a coffee this past weekend."
"This past weekend." So again this "weekend," that went by. So, meaning, last weekend in this case. This "past weekend," I could change this to say, "We met for a coffee last weekend" but you might hear someone say, "this past weekend." So "this past weekend," again, we know it means the most recent weekend because it means this. So, you might hear "this" or "the" and that shows us the most recent of that time period. So we use "past" in this way. And this is kind of a pattern you might hear more in American English. You might hear slightly different uses that follow this meaning in British English.
Okay. Let's continue to one more point about the adjective use of "past."
So, we use "past" when it's relating to verb tense. So, I've used it maybe in this lesson. When we want to talk about actions before the present and we're explaining it in terms of language, we use the expression, "past tense." So, for example, I think I said here, this is present perfect tense. We also use "past" to talk about the verb tense we use to explain past actions or past existence.
For example"
"Ate is the past tense form of eat."
So the verb "eat" in past tense is "ate." Ate is the past tense form of eat.
One more example:
"Please conjugate the verbs to past tense."
Conjugate means change the verb form. So, please conjugate the verbs to past tense. So when you're talking about actions or existence in the past and you want to talk about the language-related word, we used to do that, you can use past tense.
So, this is an overview of the adjective uses of the word "past."
I want to go now to number 2 here, the noun use of the word "past."
So, as a noun in a sentence, "past" means "the time before the present." So that just means anytime before the present. We can call that the "past."
So, for example:
"The introduction to this lesson is in the past."
Some more examples:
"He has a dark past."
"A dark past"
So, "dark" means, it's not good, probably, dark. So it's not light, it's not great, it's dark. So that means his life before the present time is dark.
One more example:
"Don't think about the past."
So that means, the things that happened before, don't think about those things in the past.
So, "past as a noun," means just any time, all the time before the present. And you'll often see "the" before past, "the past," "don't think about the past," because there's only one, sort of, if that makes sense. It's like, all the time. Before now is the past, it's in the past.
Okay. So, lastly here, I want to talk about number 3 which is the prepositional use of the word "past." I'm going to talk about two points here.
First, is using "past to mean after," after.
For example:
"We're past small talk."
In this situation, "past" means we're beyond small talk. So, for example, this sentence might be in a situation where two people have become friends. Maybe at first, you used small talk, "How is the weather?," "How is your weekend?," very easy conversations. But after time, you become closer and you can talk about more complicated issues or you can talk about deeper topics. You can say, "We're past small talk." This means, our relationship is beyond or it's after small talk. We're past small talk. So, this refers to someone's relationship. We often use this to talk about activities or our relationships to other people.
Another very common example is using it with time periods.
For example:
"It's half past 4."
That means it's 4:30. "It's half past 4" means it's half after 4. So, this prepositional use of past means "after," after.
Finally then, is this "prepositional use."
So, we use "past" to mean "moving close to and then beyond," moving close to and then beyond. So, a great example is a car, a car and, for example, a house. So the car moves close to the house and then the car moves beyond the house. This is a very common example of how this is used. So, if we imagine the same idea with these example sentences, we can see how "past" communicates that.
"He walked past the restaurant."
So here, if this is my restaurant, here is a person walking, he walked past the restaurant. So this means, he moved closed to the restaurant, then beyond the restaurant. He walked past the restaurant.
Another example:
"They drove the boat past the harbor."
So again, here is my harbor, here is the boat. They drove the boat past the harbor. So that means there's no stopping. It was a continuing motion, so "past the harbor" or "past the restaurant." We use "past" as a preposition in this way. This is a key point of confusion, I think, and I'm going to talk about "past" in just a moment.
So, these are the main points I want to talk about with past as adjective, as noun, and as preposition.
Okay. So, with that in mind, let's take a look now at "passed," P-A-S-S-E-D, passed.
So, "passed" is the past tense form of the verb "pass." So, I talked about, over here, we used "past," P-A-S-T, to talk about the language-related terms we used for verbs. So here, past tense of the verb "pass." So, one point of confusion that happens here is that this past tense "passed," shares a meaning with the prepositional use of "past" I talked about here. So, this "to move beyond" meaning, this is shared. There's one meaning of the verb "passed" which is to move beyond something that is shared with the prepositional "past" use. However, just because the meaning is shared does not mean we can use them in the same way. We cannot use "passed" and "past" in the same way. We have to create different sentence structures.
So, let's change these sentences I talked about in the beginning of this lesson to "passed," P-A-S-S-E-D form.
"He passed the restaurant."
So I can use the same example I mentioned earlier. So, to move in a direction and then to move beyond something. You'll notice here, there is no like verb, there's no hint about how he moved, was he in a car, was he walking, was he jogging, was he skating, we don't know. We only know, he passed the restaurant, somehow.
In this sentence, "He walked past the restaurant," we do know. We know he was walking. So, this is your choice. You can choose to use "he passed" or "he walked past." It's totally up to you. Both are correct.
One more example:
"The boat passed the harbor."
So again, same situation. We don't know exactly how the boat passed the harbor. Did the boat quickly pass the harbor? Was someone driving the boat? Was the boat just floating, drifting? We don't know, but this communicates the basic situation. The boat moved in the direction of the harbor and then continued beyond it.
So "passed" does share a meaning here, but the sentence structure is different, so please keep this in mind. All of these sentences are correct, but these sentences give us a little bit more information.
So, we might use sentences like these when it's very clear, like, for example, if you're waiting in the restaurant and you see your friend walk in front of the restaurant and continued walking, you might think, "Oh, he passed the restaurant." Like, you know he was walking, so you might use it in a situation like this. In a situation where it's important to communicate exactly how the person passed, you might use the P-A-S-T pattern. Okay. So, this is one point of confusion, I think, for many learners.
Now, let's move on to another point. This is related to time.
So, when I talk about P-A-S-T, I talk a bit about how we use it to express time that has gone by. We have a P-A-S-S-E-D form as well.
So, for example:
"2 hours passed."
Here, it's being used as a verb. Again, this is the past tense of the verb "pass." So, 2 hours passed, that means 2 hours went by. For example, I'm waiting, I'm waiting for an appointment and 2 hours passed. That means 2 hours went by. I cannot say, 2 hours P-A-S-T. That is incorrect. This is a verb. P-A-S-T, as we talked about here is an adjective. I cannot use it there. You could say, for example, "I've been waiting…," as I used here, "I've been waiting for the past 2 hours." That would be correct. We cannot use P-A-S-S-E-D in this way. So again, this may be a point of some confusion, but keep in mind, verb form, 2 hours passed, the verb is coming after the time period; and past 2 hours or 2 weeks, your adjective is coming before your time period.
Let's look at one more example.
"A month has passed, and I haven't heard from my client!"
So here, I'm using, in this case, again, present perfect tense. So a month is my starting point, a month ago. A month has passed. So, in this time period, I have not heard from my client. A month has passed. So again, this is the verb form, "passed." I cannot use P-A-S-T in this way. I have to use the verb form because this is a present perfect sentence structure. A month has passed and I haven't heard from my client.
Okay. I want to talk about a couple of other points about this verb, "passed." Actually, there are many uses of the verb "passed." I can't cover all of them in this lesson, but a very important point to note is this one, "to refuse (something)" or "to not accept (something). So when we're in a casual situation and we want to refuse something in a friendly way, we can use the verb "pass" like "I'll pass" or just "pass." So, that sounds a little bit friendly, sometimes, a little bit rough. In past tense, we use "passed" as I've talked about and we use, often in many cases, the preposition "on" before the item we refuse or before the item we do not accept.
For example:
"She passed on dessert."
"She passed on dessert" means she refused dessert. She didn't want dessert. She did not accept dessert. She passed on dessert.
Another example:
"He passed on my offer."
He declined my offer. He refused my offer. So, this means refuse, did not accept something.
Important to note though, using "passed on" with nothing after the preposition can cause some, maybe very important confusion or some very troubling confusion. When we use "he/she passed" or "he/she passed on," it can refer to death, so we use the expression "to pass on" to, maybe more politely say, "he or she died." So "he passed on last week" means he died last week. If the context is not clear, you may cause some confusion if you just use "on," "passed on," like "She passed on."
Of course, if you're talking about like, work or a dinner situation, there's probably a low chance of confusion if you use "she passed" or "he passed." It's probably not going to cause confusion, but there may be some situations where it's very important to note this part of your sentence, so please be careful when you "passed" and "passed on" in this way.
As I said, there are many different meanings for the verb "passed," but I want it to talk about some that can cause some confusion, especially with the word "past" P-A-S-T, as I talked about earlier in this lesson.
So, I hope that this helps clarify or I hope it helps make some things clear about the differences between these two words. Remember, the key differences are in grammatical structure in the parts that I focused on in this lesson, specifically this part and in this part too.
Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!