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22 replies

Fugghetaboutit · 20/03/2016 07:24

Hi Pendants,

Can anyone help me with how to use these words properly?

Thank you!

OP posts:
BikeRunSki · 20/03/2016 07:28

Past - think of it like a place of things that have happed before now. "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently over there". The verb is pass, so the past tense is passed.

Fugghetaboutit · 20/03/2016 07:33

Aha that makes sense! I have been known to write 'I walked past a shop' and I'm sure lots of others do!

OP posts:
Themodernuriahheap · 20/03/2016 07:39

But surely you would? You would not say

"I walked passed a shop. "

You might say " I passed the butcher on the way to the supermarket".

In the I walked past the shop, the word past is, I think, an adverb, describing the word passed.

In the second example passed is a verb.

In The past is a foreign country, past is a noun.

Themodernuriahheap · 20/03/2016 07:40

Sorry, adverb describing the verb walked.

Starman16 · 20/03/2016 07:41

'I walked past a shop' a shop is correct. You could say 'I passed a shop' but not 'I walked passed a shop' as walked and passed essentially mean the same thing.
I don't really know how to explain why 'past' works that way in this instance

(Welcome to the English language... Grin)

Fugghetaboutit · 20/03/2016 07:48

Shock Grin

What about learned/learnt?

OP posts:
mercifulTehlu · 20/03/2016 07:55

Passed when it's a verb, past when it's anything else (in the case of 'paat' it can also be a preposition, a noun or an adverb). The others in your OP are interchangeable and are essentially alternative ways of spelling the same word.

I can explain further the verb/preposition /noun/ adverb bit about 'past' if you like Grin.

mercifulTehlu · 20/03/2016 07:56

and it's 'pedants', not 'pendants'. Sorry!

YakTriangle · 20/03/2016 08:00

I never know whether it's supposed to be burned or burnt.

SpaceKablooie · 20/03/2016 08:07

I spilled the milk; the milk is spilt.

I think that's right Grin.

RoseDeGambrinus · 20/03/2016 08:09

Thanks OP for this as it prompted me to look it up! I always assumed there was a rule but apparently in British English either is fine. Text below copied from the Oxford Dictionaries website:

‘Learnt’ or ‘learned’? These are alternative forms of the past tense and past participle of the verb learn. Both are acceptable, but learned is often used in both British English and American English, while learnt is much more common in British English than in American English.

We learned the news at about three o'clock.
They learnt the train times by heart.

There are a number of other verbs which follow the same pattern in forming the past tense and past participle:

I burned/burnt the toast by mistake.
He dreamed/dreamt about his holiday.
Luke kneeled/knelt down to find his contact lens.
Tanya spoiled/spoilt her dinner.
She spelled/spelt her surname an unusual way.

TheSecondOfHerName · 20/03/2016 08:10

I use learned for the past tense (She learned to boil an egg yesterday) and learnt for the past participle (I had already learnt to boil an egg). Same for dreamed/dreamt etc. I think Americans have a different rule though.

RoseDeGambrinus · 20/03/2016 08:11

And another website suggests it's the same for I have spoiled / I have spoilt etc, you can use either unless you're in the US.

TheSecondOfHerName · 20/03/2016 08:12

In the same way, I use spilled as past tense (I spilled the milk this morning) and spilt as the past participle (She had already spilt some milk earlier).

Makeroomforthemushrooms · 20/03/2016 08:12

The verbs ending in -ed are Past Simple. They're used to narrate complete events in the past. e.g. I spilled the milk this morning.

The other verbs you mentioned (spilt, learnt, spoilt) are Past Participles. They're used to make 'perfect' tenses -=e.g. Present Perfect (I have spilt the milk) and Past Perfect (The class had already learnt addition before they started learning subtraction).

All verbs have 3 main forms: Present, Past Simple and Past Participle. In irregular verbs, there are 3 different forms:
swim, swam, swum
eat, ate, eaten
ring, rang rung etc

For regular verbs the Past Simple and Past Participle are the same:
open, opened, opened
finish, finished, finished

Pass, passed, passed is another example of the latter case where the 2nd and 3rd forms are the same - it doesn't fit with the other examples you've given.

Themodernuriahheap · 20/03/2016 08:13

Oh gosh, past the shops is a preposition, isn't it.. Tehlu?

mercifulTehlu · 20/03/2016 08:14

I'm pretty sure the distinctions you're making there are your choice rather than the rule though! "I learnt French" is perfectly correct - as RoseDeGambrinus' research shows.

mercifulTehlu · 20/03/2016 08:16

Yes, Themodernuriahheep , it is indeed.

Past the shops - preposition
He went past - adverb
The past is dead - noun

Fugghetaboutit · 20/03/2016 08:27

Grin at Pendants! Sorry! Autocorrect fail

OP posts:
TheSecondOfHerName · 20/03/2016 08:32

Makeroomforthemushrooms has given a very good explanation of the correct usage. As the OED website says, people have been using the past simple and past participle interchangeably so it has become acceptable to do so. I'll continue to make the distinction for reasons of style.

BikeRunSki · 20/03/2016 09:43

I stand corrected on Past. In my defence, I'm an engineer who who educated in French! (Am English)

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark · 21/03/2016 06:34

Tehlu's first post sums it up perfectly.

As long as your usage is consistent throughout a text, it doesn't matter which you use. (Aside from past/passed of course)

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