Main Difference – By vs Through
By and through are two prepositions that are often used in English language. A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between two things. The main difference between these two prepositions is, by is mostly used when referring to a means of something while through is used in relation to a process. Let us look at the difference between by and through, by analyzing these prepositions separately.
By- Meaning and Usage
1. Identifies the doer/performer (a person or object) of an action.
“The door was opened by my mother.”
“This novel is written by Jane Austen.”
2. Indicates the location
- Near or next to
“She lives in a village by the sea.”
- Past and beyond
“Yesterday, I drove by your house.”
3. Indicates a time period
- not later than; at or before
“I’ll complete this article by next week.”
- within the extent or period of
“This animal always hunts by night.”
4. Refers to a mode of transportation.
“He came by bus.”
5. Indicates the amount or size of margin
“The bullets missed her by mere inches.”
“The prices have dropped by 50%.”
6. Refers to one’s origins or positions.
“Eve bore two sons by Adam.”
“My brother is a doctor by profession.”
7. Indicates a result / consequence of something.
“It happened by accident.”
8. Implies in accordance with, concerning
“I did my duty by her.”
“Smoking in public places is prohibited by law.”
9. Indicates the manner in which something was achieved.
“He paid by cash.”
Through – Meaning and Usage
1. Refers to ‘from one location to another.’
- in at one end, side, or surface and out at the other
“She stepped through the door.”
- Past or beyond
“You have to travel through this village to get to the hidden valley.”
2. Indicates ‘during the whole period ‘
“They rehearsed through the night.”
3. Refers to ‘completing something ‘
“I got through my exams.”
4. Indicates ‘inspecting all or part of a collection.’
“She searched for the password, flipping through all the pages.”
5. Indicates the manner in which something was achieved/cause.
“It entered her body through an open wound.”
“It was through my fault that you lost this opportunity.”
Difference Between By and Through
By is used to indicate
- A location (Next to something, past or beyond something.)
- Modes of transportation.
- A time period.
- Ownership of composition, writing, creation.
- Amount of size or Margin
- The manner of something
- A result.
Through is used to indicate
- Location (from one location to another or across something)
- Completion of an activity
- Time (during the whole period of)
- The manner in which something is achieved.
Despite analyzing theses differences, some of you might not understand the difference between by and through clearly. This is normal, as these prepositions are sometimes used interchangeably. However, it is easy to distinguish the difference between these two prepositions by keeping in mind that by is mostly used when referring to a means of something, and through is used in relation to a process.