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General Writing and Grammar Help/RE: Pass by, go past, get past

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Question
Dear Ted:

When I asked you to explain the meaning of "to walk by," you gave the following explanation:

The expression exists. It could be just a simple statement meaning that, while you were walking, you passed by another person. In almost all cases, however, the statement suggests that you passed by someone you know, but you did not bother to speak to that person.

My question is this:

Is the above explanation still VALID FOR "to go past someone," to go by someone," and "to pass by someone"?

Also, why did you give me two examples of "to get by" instead of "to GET PAST" in your response?

Thank you

Sincerely,

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

The expression exists. It could be just a simple statement meaning that, while
you were walking, you passed by another person. In almost all cases, however,
the statement suggests that you passed by someone you know, but you did not
bother to speak to that person.

My question is this:

Is the above explanation still VALID FOR "to go past someone," to go by
someone," and "to pass by someone"?

*** YES.  "Walk by" specifically refers to your walking.  You can GO PAST, GO BY, and PASS BY could refer to walking, but they could also mean that you are using some means of transportation, such as a bus or bicycle.

Also, why did you give me two examples of "to get by" instead of "to GET PAST"
in your response?

*** I gave you those two examples and labeled them as "different" or "other," because they are similar to your original phrases.  But, their contexts are completely different.  They are different uses of "getting past" in different settings.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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