Through vs By: Difference and Comparison

“Through” implies movement within or across a medium, such as passing through a tunnel. On the other hand, “by” indicates a method or means, like achieving a goal by a specific process. Choose “through” for physical penetration and “by” for indicating a method or manner.

Key Takeaways

  1. “Through” indicates movement within or across a space, while “by” shows proximity, means, or agency.
  2. “Through” can also express a continuous period, while “by” can denote a deadline or the latest point in time something should happen.
  3. “through” and “by” are prepositions, but they are used in different contexts to convey different relationships between words in a sentence.

Through vs By

Through describes a route that passes through two different locations. It describes how far something extends. Through refers to or describes the process of an activity. While “by” implies a place, such as next to or behind something. By is used to describe any item’s dimensions, weight, or margin.

Through vs By

 

Comparison Table

FeatureThroughBy
MeaningMovement from one side to the otherMeans, agent, cause, or instrument
MovementEmphasizes passage or completion of a pathDoesn’t necessarily imply movement
TimeOften indicates duration or processIndicates completion or point in time
Cause/AgentCan imply cause or source, but not alwaysClearly emphasizes cause or agent
ExamplesHe walked through the park. (movement)We built the house by hand. (agent)
Similar meaningsAcross, throughout, during, in the course ofWith, on, via, on account of
AntonymsAround, outside, beyondWithout, except, other than

 

When to Use the Word Through?

Usage of “Through”

1. Spatial Movement:

  • Example: He walked through the forest.
  • Explanation: “Through” is used to denote movement within or across a medium, indicating spatial penetration or passage.
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2. Completion or Continuation:

  • Example: She persevered through difficult times.
  • Explanation: “Through” can convey completion of a process or continuity despite challenges.

3. Expressing Time:

  • Example: We worked through the night.
  • Explanation: When used with time, “through” indicates duration or continuous action within a specific period.

4. Means or Method:

  • Example: Solve the problem through collaboration.
  • Explanation: It implies achieving a goal by a specific process, method, or means.

5. Approval or Agreement:

  • Example: The proposal passed through committee approval.
  • Explanation: “Through” can signify the successful progression or acceptance of something, like an approval process.

6. Expressing Medium:

  • Example: The sunlight filtered through the curtains.
  • Explanation: It is used to describe passage or movement within a medium, such as light passing through an object.
through
 

When to Use the Word By?

Usage of “By”

1. Indicating Method or Means:

  • Example: She succeeded by working hard.
  • Explanation: “By” is used to denote the method or means through which an action or result is achieved.

2. Showing Time or Deadline:

  • Example: Submit your report by Friday.
  • Explanation: It signifies a deadline or a specific point in time by which an action should be completed.

3. Authorship or Creation:

  • Example: A novel by Jane Austen.
  • Explanation: “By” is used to attribute authorship or creation, indicating the person responsible for something.

4. Passing Near or Through:

  • Example: We drove by the park.
  • Explanation: When used in the context of movement, “by” can indicate passing near or through a location.

5. Multiplication or Rate:

  • Example: Multiply 5 by 3.
  • Explanation: In mathematical contexts, “by” is used to represent multiplication. It can also indicate a rate or ratio.
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6. Agent in Passive Voice:

  • Example: The book was written by the author.
  • Explanation: In passive constructions, “by” introduces the agent or doer of the action.

7. Expressing Means of Transportation:

  • Example: Travel by train.
  • Explanation: “By” can indicate the means of transportation, specifying how someone or something is moving.
by

Main Differences Between Through and By

  • Spatial Movement:
    • Through: Implies movement within or across a medium, such as passing through a tunnel.
    • By: Indicates passing near or through a location.
  • Completion or Continuation:
    • Through: Conveys completion of a process or continuity despite challenges.
    • By: Denotes achieving a goal by a specific process or method.
  • Expressing Time:
    • Through: Indicates duration or continuous action within a specific period.
    • By: Specifies a deadline or a specific point in time for completion.
  • Means or Method:
    • Through: Used to achieve a goal by a specific process or means.
    • By: Denotes the method or means through which an action or result is achieved.
  • Approval or Agreement:
    • Through: Signifies successful progression or acceptance, such as approval.
    • By: Can indicate the approval process or the agent responsible in passive constructions.
  • Attribution:
    • Through: Used in contexts related to authorship or creation.
    • By: Attributes authorship or creation to a specific person.
  • Passage or Movement within a Medium:
    • Through: Describes movement or passage within a medium, like light passing through an object.
    • By: Can indicate the means of transportation or movement through a location.
  • Multiplication or Rate:
    • Through: Not used in mathematical contexts for multiplication or rate.
    • By: Represents multiplication and can indicate a rate or ratio in mathematical contexts.
Difference Between Through and By
References
  1. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/by
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/through

Last Updated : 11 February, 2024

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22 thoughts on “Through vs By: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I’m really glad I came across this article. It’s a fantastic resource that I’ll definitely share with others.

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  2. This is such an informative article, I had never thought about the nuances between through and by before. It’s great to see it so thoroughly explained.

    Reply

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