Threw, Through, and Thru: How to Choose the Right Word

Threw and through have several meanings; thru is an informal spelling of through

ball thrown through window
The boy threw the ball through a window. Steve Bronstein/Getty Images

The words "threw," "through," and "thru" are homophones: They sound alike, but "threw" and "through" have different meanings, are different parts of speech, and were derived from different words. "Thru" means the same as "through" but is an abbreviation used only in certain informal contexts.

How to Use Threw

"Threw" is the past tense of the verb "throw," which usually means to cause something to move through the air, either by hand or with a device such as a catapult, but it has many other meanings. It can also mean to have dislodged (The horse threw its rider.), to have moved suddenly or forcefully (The angry guest threw his clothes into a suitcase.), to have cast dice, to have made pottery, or to have lost deliberately (The losing team threw the game.).

"Throw," the present tense of "threw," came from a Middle English word meaning to twist, wring, or hurl.

How to Use Through

"Through" can function as an adjective, adverb, or preposition, each with a variety of meanings. It often suggests a passage: from start to finish or from point A to point B. "Through" as an adjective can also mean finished, over, or completed, or it can mean free passage or nonstop. As a preposition, "through" means by, using, or as a result of.

"Through" came from an Old English word meaning through or beyond.

How to Use Thru

"Thru" is an informal spelling of "through" and means the same thing. It is more appropriate in informal writing such as a text message, a tweet, or a sign with limited space than in a formal essay, professional writing, or a report.

Examples

Here are sample sentences using "threw," "through," and "thru":

  • Buddy threw the baseball all the way from the outfield to home plate.
  • Charles walked through the museum, looking for schools of art that he had studied in school.
  • Marjorie is a senior and, at the end of the week, will be through with school.
  • Paul took a through train to avoid all the intermediate stops.
  • Betsy learned about the job through an ad she saw on Craigslist.
  • The sign at the fast-food restaurant pointed out the location of the "Drive-Thru Window."

Idiomatic Uses of Threw

Here are other ways to use "threw":

  • "Threw a monkey wrench into," meaning sabotaged (His decision to quit threw a monkey wrench into Sarah's plans.)
  • "Threw cold water on," meaning discouraged by criticizing (Every time Bill thought he had a great idea, his boss threw cold water on the proposal.)
  • "Threw oneself at," meaning tried hard to win attention or affection (He threw himself at Angie, but she made it clear that she wasn't interested in him.)
  • "Threw oneself into," meaning tried vigorously (Sam wanted to get ahead in his job, so he threw himself into his work.)

Idiomatic Uses of Through

The word "through" appears in numerous idioms:

  • "Through and through," meaning completely, thoroughly, or throughout (She was a Denver Broncos fan, through and through.).
  • "Go through with," meaning to experience, examine carefully, perform, use up, or complete (Despite the setbacks, she pledged to go through with the project.).
  • "Go through the roof," meaning to get very angry or to rise to a high level (When Janet came in late from a date, her mom went through the roof.).