Through vs. Threw – Which One to Use and When

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

The English language is full of words that look alike and sound alike. Through vs. threw are two of the most confusing words to both native speakers and English language learners, and this article helps explain their differences.

Learn how through and threw are defined and used in a sentence to make your writing clear and concise.

Through vs. Thew: What’s the Difference?

Through and threw are homophones, meaning they sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. They also are different parts of speech and originate from different words.

Through is a preposition that can also be used as an adjective and adverb. It means “in one side and out the other,” or “from one side to another or beyond.”

Threw is the past tense of throw and works as an action verb.

Completely unrelated, through and threw are often confused in writing by both native English speakers and English language learners despite their acceptance in formal writing scenarios. Through is by far the more commonly used word due to its definition and variable uses.

Through vs. Threw Pronunciation

Both words are one-syllable words and are pronounced as THROO.

How Do You Use Through in a Sentence

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Through is an adverb, adjective, and preposition. As an adjective, it is used as a synonym for the word finished or completed. Otherwise, it is used to explain that something entered one side of something and exited on another side.

As an Adverb

When through is used as an adverb, it means “in one side and out the other” or “the whole distance; all the way.”

For example:

  • We drove through the entire town while looking for the restaurant.

As an Adjective

When used as an adjective, it means “to complete an action” and serves as a synonym for the words finished, completed, or over with.

For example:

  • We can get back on the road when she is through with fixing the trailer hitch.

It also can mean nonstop or free passage.

For example:

  • He included the throughway in his directions so they avoided the many traffic signs.

As a Preposition

Through as a preposition is used to replace by, beyond, past, using, or as a result of.

For example:

  • The boat went through the shopping areas while navigating the canals to the docks.
  • If we can just get through this challenge, our job will begin to get easier.

How Do You Use Threw in a Sentence

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Since threw is the past-tense form of the verb throw, you use it to say something was physically propelled, cast, or projected in a specific direction. It is also used figuratively to describe emotional or mental action.

For example:

  • Jonathon threw a no-hitter ball game last week, helping the team advance in the bracket.
  • The information she shared about the exam threw the class into a state of confusion.

Origins of the Words

Through comes from thurgh or thrugh, a Middle English origin derived from the Old English word thurh. These words meant the movement through something, or beyond something.

Threw is the past tense of throw, which derives from throwen, a Middle English word meaning to wring, twist, or throw something. The Old English thrawan is the older version also meaning to throw or twist something.

Both were influenced from old French spellings and have stayed true to their original meanings through the centuries. 

How to Remember the Difference Between Through vs. Threw

Despite their similar meanings, through vs. threw are not the same and have very different meanings. So, how can you remember which is which?

If you can remember threw is a verb that describes an action, while through has multiple uses, then you should be able to keep their use straight. Threw is a shorter word with only one use, through is a longer word with multiple uses.

What is the Difference Between Thru, Threw, and Through?

Thru is another homophone that is commonly used in informal writing. Thru is an abbreviation of through and is used exactly the same way despite the non-standard spelling. However, it should never be used outside casual scenarios and is popular in social media posts, blog posts, texting, and chatting forms of communication.

Be sure to always avoid its use in academic and professional writing scenarios since it is not proper grammar.  

Examples of Through vs. Threw Used in Writing

Through and threw are common words often seen in publications. They also can be used in various idiomatic phrases. Take a look at these examples to see how they are used in the proper context.

Joyce threw 103.5 mph against UNC Asheville as one of his 10 pitches faster than 100 mph. [Knoxville News-Sentinal]

We’re marking the Globe’s 150th year with a look back through 15 decades of coverage. [Boston Globe]

City ‘threw us under the bus,’ oil company says. [Albuquerque Journal]

Fueled by junk food and caffeine, senators slogged through a marathon series of votes, a familiar but reviled ritual. [New York Times]

A girl threw a drum set at her mother and broke a laptop during an argument over curfew, according to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office. [Post and Courier]

Colorado man walking 2,000+ miles to help group that helped him through cancer. [Denver7]

Let’s Review

Through and threw are homophones, and despite their exact pronunciations, they mean very different things. Threw words as a verb to describe the action of having thrown or tossed something. It can also work figuratively to describe an emotional reaction.

Through is a preposition, adverb, and adjective. It literally means to go in one side and out another or to “pass through” something.