Paid vs. Payed – How To Distinguish These Words

07.12.23 Commonly confused words Time to read: 6min

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As you begin your academic writing journey, you may come across commonly confused words. One such pair of words is “paid” and “payed”. It’s important to understand the difference between these two words, which although have similar spellings, have different meanings, since using them interchangeably can adversely affect the quality of your writing. In academic writing, it’s crucial to be clear and precise to effectively convey your arguments.

Definition of “paid vs. payed”

“Paid” and “payed” are two different forms of the same verb, “pay,” and they are used in different contexts. “Paid” is the standard past tense and past participle form of the verb “pay” as well as an adjective. It is used in most situations, especially in formal and informal writing. “Payed” is less commonly used. It is mainly used in specific nautical or maritime contexts when referring to securing or fastening a rope or cable on a ship by winding it around a cleat or bollard.

Paid

… is a verb and adjective that indicates that a payment has been made.

Payed

… is a verb describing securing a rope or cable on a ship.

Depending on the context, one may utilize either “paid” or “payed”. Hence, it is imperative to focus on the situation. You use “paid” when referring to making a payment in standard usage. However, “payed” is only used in nautical or maritime contexts when describing the act of securing or fastening a rope or cable on a ship by winding it around a cleat or bollard.

Note: In everyday language, the correct word is almost always “paid” since “payed” is a term only used in a specific context.

Using the word “paid”

In the following, the grammatical function of the word “paid” will be illustrated, as well as how it’s used in a sentence with examples.

The word “paid” is used as the past tense and past participle form of the verb “pay.” It functions in a grammatical sense to indicate that a payment has been made or that someone has paid for something. “Paid” is used in sentences to describe actions or transactions involving the exchange of money for goods, services, or debts. Here are a few examples of how “paid” is used in sentences.

Examples

  • She paid her rent on time.
  • I paid for the concert tickets.
  • They have already paid the bill.

When “paid” is used as an adjective, it describes something that has been settled or compensated with money or another form of payment. It signifies that a financial obligation has been fulfilled.

Examples

  • She finally got her paid vacation after years of hard work.
  • The paid invoice was filed away for the end-of-year financial audit.
  • He only accepts paid assignments, as volunteer work doesn’t cover his bills.

Tip for using “paid” correctly

Including synonyms for “paid” can enhance writing, prevent redundancy, and add nuance. Here are four alternatives with sample sentences.

Synonyms Examples
Compensated (verb) The artist was well paid for their masterpiece.
The artist was well compensated for their masterpiece.
Reimbursed (verb) The company paid the travel expenses of its employees.
The company reimbursed the travel expenses of its employees.
Remunerated (verb) The employees were paid for their overtime work.
The employees were remunerated for their overtime work.
Settled (adjective) The paid bill showed that the account was no longer outstanding.
The settled bill showed that the account was no longer outstanding.

Using the word “payed”

How “payed” is used in a sentence, along with its grammatical function, will be explained below.

“Payed” as a verb

The word “payed” is used as the past tense and past participle form of the verb “pay” in specialized nautical or maritime contexts. In this sense, it describes the act of securing or fastening a rope or cable on a ship by winding it around a cleat or bollard. “Payed” is not commonly used in the everyday language outside these specific situations. Here are examples of how “payed” is used in a sentence within a nautical context.

Examples

  • The sailors carefully payed out the anchor rope as the ship prepared to drop anchor.
  • The crew efficiently payed the lines to secure the cargo during the rough seas.
  • The captain payed out the fishing net slowly to ensure a successful catch.

Tip for using “payed” correctly

The word “payed” is specific to nautical contexts and is not commonly used in other settings. As a result, it does not have synonyms in standard English, and its usage is limited to describing the winding or securing of ropes on a ship. There are no common alternatives or synonyms for “payed” in general English usage.

The correct past tense of “to pay off” is “paid off”. Here are example sentences with the correct usage.

Examples

  • Their hard work and dedication finally paid off when they won the championship.
  • After years of saving, their efforts paid off, and they were able to buy their dream home.
  • The investment in that company paid off, leading to significant profits.

“Paid attention” is the correct past tense form of the phrase “to pay attention”. Here are example sentences with the correct usage.

Examples

  • She paid attention to the professor’s lecture and took thorough notes.
  • I paid attention to road signs and signals while driving.
  • The children paid attention to their teacher’s instructions during the class.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

To improve your ability to differentiate between “paid” and “payed”, fill in the blanks in the provided sentences. Check the second tab for the correct answers.

  1. The company has ____ its employees’ salaries on time.
  2. She ____ for her purchase with a credit card.
  3. They carefully ____ out the anchor line.
  4. Have you ____ the utility bill this month?
  5. He ____ the fine for the parking ticket.
  6. The customer ____ for the goods at the checkout counter.
  7. John ____ out the anchor line carefully to secure the ship.
  8. She ____ her dues to the club last week.
  9. The mechanic ____ for the car repairs.
  10. The crew ____ the fishing net in preparation for the catch.
  1. The company has paid its employees’ salaries on time.
  2. She paid for her purchase with a credit card.
  3. They carefully payed out the anchor line.
  4. Have you paid the utility bill this month?
  5. He paid the fine for the parking ticket.
  6. The customer paid for the goods at the checkout counter.
  7. John payed out the anchor line carefully to secure the ship.
  8. She paid her dues to the club last week.
  9. The mechanic paid for the car repairs.
  10. The crew payed the fishing net in preparation for the catch.
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FAQs

Both words are correct. While “payed” may be used in some specific contexts, such as in nautical terminology to refer to the securing of a rope, “paid” is the more common and widely accepted form for the past tense and past participle of the verb “to pay.”

The correct past perfect tense of “to pay” is “had paid.”

There are no synonyms for the word “payed”. However, synonyms for “paid” include compensated, disbursed, reimbursed, remunerated, and settled.

Yes, “I have paid” is a correct phrase in the present perfect tense, indicating that an action (paying) has been completed at some point in the past and is relevant to the present.