pass or spend?


Senior Member
Spanish, Spain
Hi all,

I would like to know the difference between "pass" and "spend" when talking about time. I know time passes and we spend time, but one of the meanigs for "pass" is spend time so would it be correct both verbs in this example?

I had to pass all day with him / I had to spend all day with him

It sounds to me better English the second one, but according to the dictionary both would be correct. I am confused now!

Thanks a lot!
  • ericscot

    Senior Member
    Hello Ada,

    You're right that we spend time, and time passes. But we can also pass the time, as in, "I read a book to pass the time on my long flight." We also have pastimes: activities we like to engage in to pass the time. :)

    In your example, the second one is preferable. I occasionally hear people say, "I passed the day doing..." but I think that's not as common. It would sound strange to say you passed all day with him. This is probably one of those cases you just tune your ear to what sounds right.

    Good luck,


    Senior Member
    Hi Ada,

    Se puede intercambiar las dos... (mas o menos)

    You can say...

    "spend time [with friends]"
    "spend some time [with friends]"
    "spend the time [with friends]"
    "spend the day [with friends]"
    "pass some time [with friends]"
    "pass the time [with friends]"

    However, in the example you used, the combination "pass all day" is not generally used and sounds odd to my ear, I would say instead...

    "I had to pass the day with him" which has similar meaning to I had to spend all day with him".

    I suppose for me "pass" focuses on the passage of time, while "spend" seems to focus on the activity... Si me entiende....

    Then of course, there is the expression... "to pass time"... which means to do something while you are waiting for time to go by... "to spend time" does not have same meaning in this case.

    I hope this helped :)