This week, we answer a question about three similar sounding terms. Our listener Suri writes:
Hi, I want to know the meaning of “through,” “throughout” and “go through.”
Let me begin by talking about “through” and “throughout.” Both can be used as prepositions or adverbs. Today, I will explain their uses as prepositions.
Both words can relate to space or time, depending on how they are used.
Space: though, throughout
I will talk about space first.
“Through” means moving from one side, or end, to another side, or end of something. For example, you can say, “The train went through the tunnel.” That means it went in one side of the tunnel and out the other side.
“Through” can also mean within a place or within a piece of land, air, or something else. For example, you can say, “I walked through the park.” That means you walked within the park.
“Throughout” means in every part of a place or thing. You can say, “There were pretty flowers throughout the park.” That means every part of the park has pretty flowers. You can also say, “People throughout the United States have wonderful accents.”
An easy way to think of the difference between “through” and “throughout” is this: “Through” generally suggests motion; “throughout” generally describes a place or location.
Time: through, throughout
Now, let's think about how these words relate to time.
“Through” suggests moving toward the completion or end of something. For example, “The sale goes through the end of June” means the sale will continue or last until the end of June.
“Throughout” means during an entire situation or period of time. For example, “We heard birds singing throughout the day” means we heard them all day long.
And finally, we turn to the term “go through.”
“Go through” is a phrasal verb with several meanings. Yet most are not related to the meanings of “through” and “throughout.”
But there is one meaning that relates in a small way — to examine something carefully. I can say, “I went through all of the papers and found what I was looking for.” This meaning of “go through” suggests moving “through” something: in this case, the papers.
For other meanings of “go through,” you can use an online dictionary, such as The Merriam Webster Learners’ Dictionary.
That’s all for Ask a Teacher this week.
I’m Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
What questions do you have about English? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words in This Story
preposition - n. a word that shows direction, location or time, or introduces an object
adverb - n. a word that is often used to show time, manner, place, or degree
tunnel - n. a passage that goes through a hill or under the ground
park - n. a piece of public land in or near a city that can be used for pleasure and exercise
accent - n. a way of pronouncing words that occurs among the people in a region or country
phrasal verb - n. a group of words that functions as a verb and is made up of a verb and a preposition, an adverb, or both
dictionary - n. a reference book that contains words listed in alphabetical order and gives information about the meanings, forms and pronunciations