The Grammar Belle

Spiffing y'all up, one typo at a time

WSWH: A Tale of Two Homophones

Hey, y’all.

Don’t know if y’all have heard, but Texas (and much of the rest of the U.S.) has been stuck for almost a week with “cold, bleak, biting” weather. All this bitter cold isolation has just about turned me into a scrooge. And it has me thinking about how best to create a Dickensian lesson for y’all this Christmas season.

What can Ebenezer, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim teach you about spelling and usage? Um, not much. But The Grammar Belle can—with the help of a ghost or two.

I’d like you to meet the Ghost of Christmas Past (in my dreams, anyway).

Rest in peace, sweet Patrick Swayze. You were and will always be my favorite movie ghost.

Rest in peace, sweet Patrick Swayze. You were and will always be my favorite movie ghost.

His cousin, the Ghost of Christmas Present, will be here shortly, once the Ghost of Christmas Past has passed by and is heading home. They are both hoping that before another year is past, the good people of the English-speaking world will remember when to use past and when to use passed.

Past = an adjective* that describes something that happened at a point in time before now; something IS past

Passed = a verb that tells you something has gone by, either figuratively or literally; for those of you who are like I am, it’s the past participle and past tense of the verb to pass; something HAS passed

Y’all remember the old, tried-and-true TGB substitution method? Or has too much time passed since we last used it? When you’re stuck trying to figure out which past/passed you want to use, just substitute present in its place and you’ll know if you have the right one!


Whew. Glad that post is now in the past.
Say what? Another season of my favorite show on TV, The Amazing Race, has passed. In a past episode, I heard a contest say something that made me sit up and take notice—and not in a good way. This is for you, Pink-Haired Chick.

*Yes, brilliant ones, past can also be a preposition, a noun, and an adverb. What a word!

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