I am sure I’ve seen this usage somewhere, i want to use this and it goes like this:

“As I reflect on the years passed, ...”

I don’t feel comfortable with it. But I’ve seen similar usage in “ a reflection on years passed”

Can someone help tell if my usage is correct ?


  • That's a good example of prose, Mario. It's correct. Are you writing something? – Matt Dec 31 '18 at 21:10
  • Yup I’m writing a “goodbye” mail to my colleagues as I’m resigning. My sentence goes like this - “ As I sit on my desk one last time and reflect on the years passed, I have no regrets.” – Mario Silva Dec 31 '18 at 21:29
  • @Matt I think you need to check your sources. – Ronald Sole Dec 31 '18 at 23:14
  • Ronald, I think it's fine prose. We passed time together. Not we past time time together. I remember the times passed, laughs shared, the lessons learned. Btw, Mario: sit AT your desk- – Matt Jan 1 '19 at 15:56

It's not correct English.

Confusion often arises between the verb passed

She passed the library each morning on the way to work

and the word past which, problematically, while never a verb, can act as a noun:

The reason for his actions lay in his past

or a preposition:

The first horse past the post

or an adverb:

Several dogs ran past

or an adjective:

The past week has been a busy one.

In your case your are talking about the years past where past is an adjective. That's to say, earlier years or years that have gone by.

To use your construction, you would have to change it to read:

As I reflect on the years that have passed since.....




| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks @Ronald, I got it. But what abt usages where they say , “ ghosts of new years past” ? – Mario Silva Jan 1 '19 at 6:00
  • @MarioSilva Whether past years or years past you're talking about the same thing. Past is an adjective describing years as previous would be. Otherwise, you might write: Ghosts of years past passed by to see how both words could be used. – Ronald Sole Jan 1 '19 at 10:35

passed / past

If you are referring to a distance or a period of time before now, use “past”: “the police car drove past the suspect’s house” (distance) or “the team performed well in the past” (time). If you are describing the action of passing, however, you need to use “passed”: “when John passed the gravy, he spilled it on his lap,” “the teacher was astonished that none of the students had passed the test,” “after a brief illness, he passed away.” Remember that no matter however you have ”passed the time” you have never “past the time,” not even in the distant past.

“Past” can be an adjective, a noun, a preposition, or an adverb, but never a verb. If you need to write the past tense of the verb “to pass,” use “passed.”

Published in Prof Paul Brian’s book, Common Errors of English Usage


| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you so much, Everyone! I'm done with the write-up and resigned from my job. It is so liberating ! – Mario Silva Jan 10 at 4:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.