Which of the following sentence(s) use the word PASSING incorrectly or inappropriately?

(a) She did not have passing marks in mathematics.

(b) The mad woman was cursing everybody passing her on the road.

(c) At the birthday party, all the children enjoyed a game of passing the parcel.

I'm not passing on my assignment to you guys. Me and my friend disagree on the answer and we need to confirm.

I say usage in option (b) is incorrect. The correct sentence should be

(b)The mad woman was cursing everybody passing by on the road.

Reason: "passing her" would mean that everybody is passing through her which doesn't make sense.

My friend says usage in option (a) is incorrect. The correct sentence should be

(a) She did not have pass marks in mathematics.

Reason: "pass marks" is the correct usage not "passing marks"

Kindly tell which is wrong and why? (It is possible that more than one are wrong)

  • (b) seems to be the one. The (c) is correct as 'passing' can be an adjective that is used before noun. Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 12:07

2 Answers 2


a) looks OK to me. While 'pass marks' is more idiomatic, 'passing marks' is OK as well.

b) is fine. There's nothing about 'passing her' that implies that they're going through her. One definition of pass is to move by or in front of someone and that's the one intended here.

c) is the one that I would say is incorrect. We don't play 'passing the parcel', we play Pass the parcel.


Option A is faulty. "Passing marks" may be used colloquially, but it is incorrect. The correct usage is "pass mark".

"Passing by" is much more common in speech, but the option B is grammatically correct.

Option C is correct, contrary to the above answer. The phrase "passing the parcel" should've been inside inverted commas, but it isn't incorrect.

Hope this helps. I found a video that explains it better than I do (this very question) Here's the link: https://youtu.be/K1LIPINNuDQ?t=2022

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