Difference Between Through and By

What is Through?

The word ‘through’ originated from the Germanic word ‘durch,’ having a similar meaning to door in Dutch. This word serves the purpose of portraying various meanings in different contexts. It may act as a preposition or an adverb in different cases according to the need and context. The most common use of it is to show the movement of something ‘from one side to another.’

It also connects two sentences or things as a preposition in such a situation. Consider a situation where someone crosses a place from one side to another. The use of ‘through’ in the sentence would be as follows, ‘The children ran through the corridor.’ As such, its frequency of usage can vary concerning the context in which it is used. In general, however, the word “through” is commonly used in both written and spoken language.

 It has another aspect of meaning too. Such as ‘going through something, in the sense of a situation or event. Such use of it can be seen in the following sentence, ‘You have been going through a lot lately. The word ‘through’ indicates sensing something from another side. It can be from the opposite side of a wall or window. For instance, ‘I could hear the children fight through the wall.’

What is By? 

The word ‘by’ has a German origin, related to the Dutch word ‘bij’ and the German word ‘bei.’ This word serves various functions according to the context. It can act as a preposition or an adverb that shows the maximum time for task completion, the performer of an action, the method to do something, or the location of something.

The sentence, ‘The newspaper is always delivered by 8 am,’ uses ‘by’ to indicate the time limit. Similarly, the sentence, ’The birthday cake was baked by my mother,’ shows the use of ‘by’ to point out the person who baked the cake. In another example, ‘Our family went to Pisa by train,’ the use of ‘by’ conveys the method of transport adopted to reach Pisa.

Consider the instance, ‘We visited a café by the stadium .’ Here ‘by’ is being used to describe the location of the café, which is located near the stadium. ‘By’ also acts as an adverb. Such as, ‘As time passes, you will forget the pain.’ Here the word ‘by’ is acting as it is defining the verb that goes.

Difference Between Through and By

  1. The root of ‘through’ can be seen in the Old English “thurh,” whereas, ‘by’ has its root in the German word ‘bei.’
  2. ‘Through’ can be used as a preposition, adverb, or adjective, whereas ‘by’ acts as a preposition followed by a noun.
  3. ‘Through’indicates the extent of something, whereas ‘by’ refers to the size or amount of a thing.
  4. ‘Through’ refers to the completion of an activity, whereas ‘by’ refers to modes of transportation.
  5. ‘Through’ describes the time during the whole period, whereas ‘by’ hints at a specific time.

 Comparison Table Between Through and By

Parameters of ComparisonThrough By
OriginOld English “Thurh”The German word ‘Bei.’
Grammatical CategoryPreposition, Adjective, AdverbPreposition with a Noun
UsageExtent of SomethingBy Means of Something
Multiplicative TermNot Used in Multiplicative TermUsed in Multiplicative Term
Temporal ReferenceTime During the Whole PeriodHints at a Specific Time


  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/cogl.1994.5.2.157/html
  2. https://www.jbe-platform.com/content/journals/10.1075/bjl.18.13eva