'Walk Past' or 'Walk Pass'? Which One Is Correct? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 27 March 2024)

Walk Past vs Walk Pass: Which One Is Correct?

In English, walk past is the correct expression to use when you want to describe the act of walking by or going beyond a place without stopping or entering it. In this expression, past functions as either a preposition or an adverb that means 'beyond in position' or 'further than'. When you walk past a place, you are moving beyond it and continuing on your way. On the other hand, using walk pass is never correct. The verb walk should be used with a preposition or an adverb, not another verb:

I walked past the store on my way to work.
I walked pass the store on my way to work.

Julia walked past quickly without saying hello.
Julia walked pass quickly without saying hello.

✅ As he walked past the park, he noticed a group of kids playing football.
As he walked pass the park, he noticed a group of kids playing football.

As I was walking past the bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread made my stomach growl.
As I was walking pass the bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread made my stomach growl.

 We walked past the museum and saw the line was too long, so we decided to come back later.
We walked pass the museum and saw the line was too long, so we decided to come back later.

If you want to use the verb pass, you could use the expression pass by. Both walk past and pass by describe the act of moving beyond a place without stopping or entering it and can be used interchangeably in many situations:

✅ I walked past the store. 
✅ I passed by the store.

Both of the sentences above mean that you went beyond the store without stopping or entering it.

However, there are situations where the two expressions are not interchangeable. Pass by can be used in a broader sense to describe any kind of movement beyond a place, while walk past specifically refers to movement on foot.

For example, to describe a train moving beyond a station without stopping, you should use pass by:

The train passed by the station without stopping.
The train walked past the station without stopping.

In this case, walk past would clearly be inappropriate because it indicates movement on foot, and a train certainly cannot walk.

Overall, the choice between pass by and walk past depends on the context of your speech or writing and personal style preferences. One thing is for sure, though: using walk pass is never correct.

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Examples from the Media

A man with dementia wandered out of his care home and was only spotted outside on his own when he walked past his wife. Daily Mail (2014)

Starting this week, Toronto will block off short sections of the curb lane to alleviate sidewalk crowding in "hotspots." It should make it possible for people walking past pharmacies and grocery stores in certain areas to stay two metres away from the people lined up outside those stores in two-metre increments. —Toronto Star (2020)

Quietly, in the distance, I began to hear a chorus of small bells. Then, suddenly, the party of accidental musicians came into view: a large group of Japanese pilgrims who, coming toward me, all stopped neatly in line to let me walk past. —The New York Times (2023)

A man approached the woman from the public phone boxes outside the Night 'n Day store on Camp Street and propositioned her as she walked past. —Otago Daily Times (2018)

Real-World Examples of Misuse

What we need here is the preposition past, not the verb/noun pass. To walk past a reference point is to walk from one side of it to the other.

1. Midnight refers to 12 o'clock at night. In English, we often use on for specific days and at for specific times. For example, we would say on Friday or at midnight. We do not say on Friday midnight, just as we do not say on Friday 3 o'clock. The correct phrasing is at midnight on Friday. However, this can be ambiguous since midnight is the exact moment that divides two days. Therefore, at midnight on Friday could refer to the start of Friday (when Thursday night transitions into Friday) or the end of Friday (when Friday night transitions into Saturday). To avoid confusion, it is better to say at the start of Friday or at the end of Friday. For added clarity, you can specify the time by stating at 12:01 a.m. on Friday or at 11:59 p.m. on Friday.
2. Pass is typically used as a verb or a noun, whereas past is used as a preposition or an adverb to indicate movement beyond a certain point. In the context of this sentence (Tommy walked past the street and saw the thief.), where Tommy moved beyond the street, past is the correct word to use.
(Source: St. Francis' Canossian School)

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