What’s the Difference Between Payed and Paid?

If you spend enough time reading things written in comment sections on the internet, you’ve definitely seen people use the words “payed” and “paid” interchangeably. Then you scoff at them and totally dismiss their opinion because they also used the wrong “your” or “their” in whatever weird internet insult they decided to throw at you. But now you’re thinking about it, because you might not have ever seen “payed” used correctly before—or you’ve just gone around thinking one of the two was just objectively incorrect. So then now you’re looking it up and now you’re here. What’s the difference between payed and paid?

Is One Objectively Incorrect?

Generally speaking, if you’re seeing someone use the word “payed,” yes. There’s a 99% chance it’s being used incorrectly—so much so that the word processor we’re writing this post on is having a stroke with how often we’re using the word “payed.” Generally, people writing “payed” are trying to use the past-tense of the verb “pay,” in the context of exchange. 

Now, if you’re familiar with your tenses you know the past-tense of “to pay” when traditionally used isn’t “payed;” it’s “paid.” So when you are talking about something you can pay for, the correct word is “paid.” Examples include having “paid for your debt” or “paid your family a visit.” 

Is “Payed” Ever Correct?

The short answer is yes. There is a correct time and place to use the word “payed.” However, the only time “payed” is ever used is when you’re at sea and talking about boats. So what we said earlier about “payed” being wrong 99% of the time you see someone use it still holds. 

Here’s some proof. We took Google’s Ngram Viewer, which tells us the frequency at which words and phrases are used in printed sources between 1500 and 2019. You can compare these strings of characters. It defaults to a range between 1800 and 2019, so that’s what we went with for the comparison of the words “paid” and “payed.” If you go look at the graph, you’ll see the usage of the word “paid” outstrips the use of the word “payed” to the point where it’s just… Totally insignificant. We also have a case-insensitive Ngram of the word
“payed” on its own, just so you know the word does… actually appear in the search. 

Okay, so boats. Why would you pay something? In the nautical sense, the word “pay” refers to the sealing of a ship’s hull to prevent leaks. This is often done with like… tar. In this sense, you don’t pay for something, “pay” is just a task. The past tense of this nautical pay is “payed,” in use it would look something like “have you payed the deck yet?” 

Back to making fun of people on the internet with you, then. 

Speaking of paying, see if you know which universities do that the most here.