I'm having a debate with a friend and to my surprise a Google search on this question didn't provide any answers.

In short which of the two sentences is correct?

"I will speed passed the police officer"


"I will speed past the police officer"

My own impression is that "passed" is correct because it means to move in front of someone. But the fact that it only sounds right in the past tense, even though we are talking future tense has me suspicious. I suppose the third option is "speed pass" but that just sounds awkward and wrong.

Any help is appreciated but please try to cite sources, we already have plenty of opinions and dictionary definitions, but no solid arguments or references to settle this debate.

The proposed duplicate does a good job, however it lacks a reference that would explain why one must use "past" when used as a preposition and "passed" when used as a verb. The inclusion of such a reference would satisfy this questiona s well.

  • 1
    Are our references allowed to be dictionary definitions?
    – origimbo
    Apr 25, 2018 at 15:45
  • Possible duplicate of "Past" or "passed"? Apr 25, 2018 at 15:51
  • @KateBunting Isn't this the complementary question where past is acting as a preposition rather than an adverb? Although the final answer is the same.
    – origimbo
    Apr 25, 2018 at 15:52
  • @origimbo Sure as long as it makes a solid case. Apr 25, 2018 at 15:52
  • 1
    @user9825893y50932 "you used the wrong word!"... "But the two words sound exactly the same!"... "Yea but I know which one you used, I know you." Apr 25, 2018 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


Let's take your sentence and rewrite it for the time before you reach the policeman. Hopefully you'll agree that the following works:

I will speed toward the police officer

and that "toward" is playing the same role as you want "passed/past" to. Now look up toward in your favourite dictionary, e.g. dictionary.com. In one of the early entries you will see something like

preposition, Also, towards

1. in the direction of: to walk toward the river.

So, we want a preposition.

Now let's check pass, passed and past in our dictionary. We see for pass

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)


for passed


and finally for past





So, the winner is the only preposition, i.e. past.

  • Thanks, I think that satisfies the need for a solid reference and explanation. Ill accept Apr 25, 2018 at 16:10

I will speed past the cop. 'will speed' - is the verb phrase. 'past' - is an adverb meaning - 'to pass from one side to another'

How will you speed? quickly? slowly? or past?

'to pass-passed' is a verb. You have finished the verb phrase with 'speed'. The next item is an adverb. 'past'(adverb, adjective, preposition) and 'passed'(past tense of to pass) are two words that are often mistaken. (Notice in past tense, 'past' is an adjective describing tense). If you look in a dictionary you will find many examples. I hope that clears up the argument.

  • 1
    past the cop is a prepositional phrase.
    – KarlG
    Apr 25, 2018 at 16:13
  • Yes, you're right, at least it isn't a verb. ;-)
    – Vero
    Apr 25, 2018 at 17:10

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