Meaning of PAST in English



Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Note: In addition to the uses shown below, '~' is used in the phrasal verb ‘run ~’.


The ~ is the time before the present, and the things that have happened.

In the ~, about a third of the babies born to women with diabetes were lost...

He should learn from the mistakes of the ~. We have been here before...

? future, present

N-SING: the N

If you accuse someone of living in the ~, you mean that they think too much about the ~ or believe that things are the same as they were in the ~.

What was the point in living in the ~, thinking about what had or had not happened?

PHRASE: V inflects disapproval


Your ~ consists of all the things that you have done or that have happened to you.

...revelations about his ~.

...Germany’s recent ~.

N-COUNT: usu sing, usu with supp


Past events and things happened or existed before the present time.

I knew from ~ experience that alternative therapies could help...

The list of ~ champions includes many British internationals.

= previous



You use ~ to talk about a period of time that has just finished. For example, if you talk about the ~ five years, you mean the period of five years that has just finished.

Most shops have remained closed for the ~ three days.

= last

? next

ADJ: det ADJ n


If a situation is ~, it has ended and no longer exists. (LITERARY)

Many economists believe the worst of the economic downturn is ~.

...images from years long ~...

= gone

ADJ: v-link ADJ


In grammar, the ~ tenses of a verb are the ones used to talk about things that happened at some time before the present. The simple ~ tense uses the ~ form of a verb, which for regular verbs ends in ‘-ed’, as in ‘They walked back to the car’.


see also ~ perfect


You use ~ when you are stating a time which is thirty minutes or less after a particular hour. For example, if it is twenty ~ six, it is twenty minutes after six o’clock.

It’s ten ~ eleven...

I arrived at half ~ ten.

? to

PREP: num PREP num

Past is also an adverb.

I have my lunch at half ~.

? to

ADV: num ADV


If it is ~ a particular time, it is later than that time.

It was ~ midnight...

It’s ~ your bedtime.

= gone, after



If you go ~ someone or something, you go near them and keep moving, so that they are then behind you.

I dashed ~ him and out of the door...

A steady procession of people filed ~ the coffin...

= by


Past is also an adverb.

An ambulance drove ~.

= by



If you look or point ~ a person or thing, you look or point at something behind them.

She stared ~ Christine at the bed.



If something is ~ a place, it is on the other side of it.

Go north on I-15 to the exit just ~ Barstow...

? before

PREP: v-link PREP n


If someone or something is ~ a particular point or stage, they are no longer at that point or stage.

He was well ~ retirement age...

PREP: usu v-link PREP n


If you are ~ doing something, you are no longer able to do it. For example, if you are ~ caring, you do not care about something any more because so many bad things have happened to you.

She was ~ caring about anything by then and just wanted the pain to end...

Often by the time they do accept the truth they are ~ being able to put words to feelings.

= beyond

PREP: v-link PREP -ing

If you say that someone or something is ~ it, they are no longer able to do what they used to do.

We could do with a new car. The one we’ve got is a bit ~ it.

PHRASE: v-link PHR disapproval


If you say that you would not put it ~ someone to do something bad, you mean that you would not be surprised if they did it because you think their character is bad.

You know what she’s like. I wouldn’t put it ~ her to call the police and say I stole them.

PHRASE: oft PHR to-inf

Collins COBUILD.      Толковый словарь английского языка для изучающих язык Коллинз COBUILD (международная база данных языков Бирмингемского университета) .