I found the phrase in this sentence,

There are way over 10,000 numbered examples in The Cambridge Grammar, and thousands more given in passing in the text.

I couldn't parse this last part at first. Not sure if it is "to give in" (which sounds quite wrong), or "in passing" (meaning casually, sounds wrong; not part of the main subject, also sounds wrong), or "passing in", or it was "given a pass", or something else. I only know that if I omitted that in passing part, it will make more sense.

I looked up "pass in" in a few dictionaries, nothing came up.

After some twenty searches or so, I finally found this definition:

in passing: by the way; incidentally: he mentioned your visit in passing

which is helpful, since I can understand given incidentally in the text.

But I am still a bit unsure...

Do I understand that sentence correctly?


There are way over 10,000 numbered examples in The Cambridge Grammar, and thousands more given in passing in the text.

There are over 10,000 numbered examples in the Cambridge Grammar. These examples are given explicitly. They are defined, they are intended as the primary examples. In addition to those 10,000, there are thousands more provided throughout the book (the text). These other examples however are not explicitly given. They are given "in passing" (in this case, meaning 'casually', 'incidentally').

For example, say I was trying to explain the number five (5) to you. I am explicitly explaining that five is a number used to count objects. In order to explain it to you, I will also have to explain the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 (because without it, you wouldn't understand 5). I'm not trying to explicitly explain those other numbers though, I am explaining them in passing in order to explain 5.

In the case of the Cambridge Grammar, a given idiom or construction of words might be defined in passing in order to explain a more important and specific point.


It is, in my opinion, a little confusing to phrase it that way. But I would read it as:

(given) (in passing) (in the text)

Broken down:

  • given : there are many examples specified or stated within the text
  • in passing : there are many examples briefly and casually mentioned in the text
  • In the text : self-explanatory, but basically the examples can be found inside the text.

Written another way: There are thousands of examples which are mentioned casually inside the text.

  • both Doc's and your answers are equally good to me. I accepted Doc's as the answer because he posted first. Hope you don't mind that. Nov 25 '13 at 19:19
  • No problem. Mine was actually first, lol. But his provides a good level of detail. I don't care if mine is accepted as long as the question was answered. Thanks for the comment, and I am glad it helped.
    – Gray
    Nov 25 '13 at 19:32
  • Doc's answer gets the edge from me as well, because "incidentally" come much closer to the meaning of "in passing" in this context than "briefly and casually".
    – Martha
    Nov 25 '13 at 20:00
  • @Martha Yeah, I think I like that better as well. I will leave my answer as is because it is sometimes helpful to hear many possible interpretations to help form an "average" interpretation of something.
    – Gray
    Nov 25 '13 at 21:23

I'd say that a better interpretation of "in passing" would be "said or mentioned as an aside".

So the sentence should read:

There are way over 10,000 numbered examples in The Cambridge Grammar, and thousands more given as an aside in the text.

Hope this helps.

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