This has confused a lot of people, myself included. So, I did some digging.
You'll be happy to learn that the word passed is the past tense of the verb to pass.
To pass denotes motion, movement from one place to another.
Examples of passed:
- Tim passed the exam. (to pass = to be successful.)
- Karen passed the note to Sally. (to pass = to hand over)
- Jackie passed the mailbox. (to pass = to move)
Past has several meanings but usually relates to time before the present.
Past can be used as an adjective, an adverb, a noun or a preposition.
Examples of an Adjective:
- This past year has been difficult for the family.
- She loves to talk about past competitions.
- Jackie ran past. (Note: The word past is acting as an adverb but can easily become a preposition.)
- It's all in the past.
- Can you dig into her past.
- Don't go past the gate. (Note: Go is the verb and past is the preposition.)
- Jackie ran past the mailbox.
So, in summary:
Passed is the past tense of the verb to pass and denotes an action or motion.
Past can be used as a noun, adjective, adverb or preposition. It usually relates to time before the present.