Threw vs. Through – What the Difference?

In English, as in all languages, some words sound the same, even if they have different meanings. These words, called homophones, have the potential to seriously confuse fledgling writers and language learners.

Threw and through are two such homophones. They sound the same when spoken aloud, but they mean different things and are actually even different parts of speech.

Threw and through can be tricky, and using the wrong one can alter the meaning of your sentence and confuse your readers. Continue reading to learn the correct way to use these words.

What is the Difference Between Threw and Through?

In this article, I will compare threw vs. through. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence; this way, you will be able to see them as they appear in context.

I will also show you a helpful memory tool that you can use to decide whether threw or through is the word you need.

When to Use Threw

threw versus throughWhat does threw mean? Threw is the past tense of the verb throw, which has several meanings. Threw usually means to hurl something with one’s arm, the way an American football quarterback might complete a pass or a baseball pitcher might strike out a batter.

It can also mean to lose a contest on purpose.

Here are a few examples,

  • Sandy Koufax threw most of his pitches for strikes, and most batters missed them.
  • When I threw my old papers in the garbage, the office manager scolded me for not recycling.
  • The Chicago White Sox allegedly threw the 1919 World Series, but no one knows for sure if it is true.
  • Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ ace, threw six scoreless innings, walking none and striking out seven with a combination of high-90s sinkers and demonic breaking balls. –The New York Times

Phrases That Use Threw

There are a number of phrases that use the word threw in its various conjugations.

  • Throw me for a loop: to completely surprise someone.
    • You’re always late. You threw me for a loop when I saw you here on time.
  • Throw in the towel: abandon a struggle; admit defeat.
    • On my third mile of the marathon, I have to throw in the towel.
  • Throw good money after bad: incur further loss in a hopeless effort to recoup a previous loss.
    • You should stop investing money in that company. You’re throwing good money after bad.

There are many other phrases, but these are a few common ones.

When to Use Through

Definition of through definition of threw definitionWhat does through mean? Through is a preposition. It describes where or how something happens.

Something that cuts through something else moves amidst it, and something that occurs through a process transpires according to the events described.

Here are some examples,

  • Fish swim through the water, and birds fly through the air.
  • I will enact my policy goals through budget reconciliation, if I am to enact them at all.
  • Through the entire trip, the guidebook was not as helpful as we had hoped.
  • Atlas Mara Ltd. burned through another $100 million of equity last year on weaker African currencies, marking the latest setback for the listed Africa banking business co-founded by former Barclays PLC Chief Executive Bob Diamond. –The Wall Street Journal

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define through and define threwNow, let’s go over a trick you can use to choose through or threw.

If the word you are using is a verb, then threw is the word you need. If you are using the word as a preposition, it should be spelled through. These words mean completely different things and are never interchangeable, so it’s important to get them right.

Since verb and threw are each spelled with the letter E, you could easily remember that threw is a verb by keeping in mind its spelling.

For a discussion on thru vs. through, see here.

Summary

Is it threw or through? Threw and through are homophones, which means they have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Here are three points to remember on through vs. threw,

  • Through is a preposition, describing where or how something happens,
  • Threw is a past tense verb, meaning having tossed something with one’s arm in the past.
  • These words are never interchangeable.

To remember that threw is a verb, remember that it shares an E with the word verb. Then, you will always know when to use each of these homophones.