Using the Spanish Verb 'Pasar'

Common Verb Has Variety of Meanings

Sign that says in Spanish: Attention. Do not enter.
Attention: Do not enter. Photo by Flickr user oSiNaReF; used under terms of Creative Commons license.

Like its English cognate "to pass," the Spanish verb pasar has a variety of meanings that often vaguely relate to movement in space or time. The key to translating the verb, more so than with most words, is understanding the context.

Here are some comon meanings of pasar:

To happen, to occur: ¿Qué ha pasado aquí? What happened here? Pase lo que pase estoy a tu lado. Whatever happens, I'm at your side. Creo que ya pasó. I think it has already happened.

To spend (time): Pasó todo el día con la familia de Juan. She spent all day with Juan's family. Pasaba los fines de semana tocando su guitarra. He would spend weekends playing his guitar.

To move or travel: No pasa el tren por la ciudad. The train doesn't go through the city.

To enter a room or area: ¡Bienvenida a mi casa! ¡Pasa! Welcome to my house! Come in!

To cross (a line of some sort): Pasamos la frontera y entramos en Portugal. We crossed the border and entered Portugal. El general Torrejón pasó el río con la caballería. General Torrejon crossed the river with the cavalry.

To go past: Siga derecho y pase 5 semáforos. Go straight ahead and pass five traffic lights. Cervantes pasó por aquí. Cervantes came by here.

To hand over an object: Pásame la salsa, por favor. Pass the sauce, please. No me pasó nada. He didn't give me anything.

To endure, to suffer, to put up with: Nunca pasaron hambre gracias a que sus ancestros gallegos trabajaron como animales. They never suffered from hunger because their ancestors worked like animals. Dios no nos abandona cuando pasamos por el fuego de la prueba. God does not abandon us when we go through the fiery ordeal.

To experience: No puedes pasar sin Internet. I can't get by without the Internet. No tenía amigos ni migas, por eso me lo pasaba mal. I didn't have male friends nor female friends, and because of this I had a rough time.

To pass (a test): La niña no pasó el examen de audición. The girl didn't pass the audition.

To exceed: Pasamos de los 150 kilómetros por hora. We went faster than 150 kilometers per hour.

To overlook (in the phrase pasar por alto): Pasaré por alto tus errores. I'll overlook your mistakes.

To show (a motion picture): Disney Channel pasó la película con escenas nuevas. The Disney Channel showed the movie with new scenes.

To forget: No entiendo como se me pasó estudiar lo más importante. I don't now how I forgot to study the most important thing.