The word "past" is used to talk about activities that happened before the present, but it’s also used when describing movement, time, and location.

In these sentences, the word "past" is used as a noun:

  • That’s all in the past.
  • You’re living in the past.
  • You can’t run away from the past.
  • He’s stuck in the past.
  • The past is behind us.
  • It’s interesting to read about the past.
  • History is a story about the past.
  • If we don’t study history, we are bound to repeat mistakes that have been made in the past.
  • Daily life was much more difficult for people in the past than it is now.

past warrior

In the next set of sentence, the word "past" is an adjective:

  • He must be held accountable for past activities.
  • The woman claims to have memories of a past life.
  • We have accomplished many things in the past year.
  • It’s important to study the simple past tense to be proficient in English.

When the word "past" is used as a preposition, it means "after."

  • It’s past midnight. (It’s after midnight.)
  • It’s half past one. (It’s 1:30. / It’s one-thirty.)
  • It’s well past bedtime. (It’s very late and it’s time to go to sleep.)
  • Nowadays, many people intended on working past the age of retirement. (Click here for more examples of "past" as a preposition.)

When the word "past" is used as an adverb, it means that you are traveling, driving, or walking by something.

  • We walked past the store to see if it was open.
  • Don’t go past this door.
  • You can’t go past that line on the floor.
  • The ball went past the boundary and was declared out of bounds.
  • Whenever I drive past the cemetery, I think of my mother who is buried there.

Note: Don’t confuse the word "past" with the verb "pass" in the past tense.

  • We have passed through the tunnel.
  • We went past the tunnel.

Do you understand the difference? If not, click here to study the verb "pass."

Click here for more vocabulary.

July 25, 2019