Difference Between by and through

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Understanding the proper use of by and through

Understanding the proper use of by and through

The English language has various rules regarding grammar. Sometimes the rules apply and other times it doesn’t. It is of vital importance that you make sure that you understand the different types of words. This will enable you to use them correctly.

Difference between an adverb, a preposition and an adjective[i]

Adverbs are words that describe the verb. You must first find the verb in the sentence, then you will be able to find the adverb.

The dog ran fast.

He talks quietly to his friend.

In the first sentence ran is the verb and fast is the adverb. It describes the way the dog ran.

In the second sentence talks is the verb and quietly is the adverb. It describes how he talks.

Prepositions are used in connection to nouns. Prepositions are formative elements that are used to describe certain ideas that are connected to nouns.

It is important to learn some of the most important prepositions. This will enable you to spot them easier and understand how to use them. Some of the most popular prepositions are:

  • To
  • By
  • With
  • For
  • From
  • Than
  • In
  • On
  • At
  • Among
  • Between
  • Through

A preposition needs an object in a sentence. In the English language prepositions are used with different objects to give them different meanings. Prepositions are used in idiomatic expressions and phrases. This is an important use of prepositions.

The chair belongs to my mother

The little girl sits between her parents

In the first sentence chair is the object and to is the preposition. In the second sentence little girl is the object and between is the preposition.

Prepositions give certain meanings to a noun (object). It does not describe the noun like an adjective does. Make sure you do not confuse a preposition and an adjective.

An adjective describe a noun. It gives you more information regarding the noun.

The pretty chair.

The colourful painting belongs to the artist.

In the first sentence pretty is the adjective. In the second sentence colourful is the adjective and to is the preposition. Colourful explains what the painting (the noun) looks like, to explains to which the painting belongs.

It is important to understand the difference between adverbs, prepositions and adjectives.

The preposition by[ii]

After you have master the difference of the above mentioned, it is further more important to understand that prepositions might seem that they have the same meaning but they don’t.  Two of these prepositions are by and through.[iii]

Let us start with by. The meaning of by is as follows:

  • Implying that a noun is near or next to something
  • Referring to the type of transport
  • It indicates a time period
  • It can give the idea that you have to go past or beyond something
  • It can indicate increase or decrease
  • It can indicate the way in which something is done
  • It can indicate how something happened
  • It indicates a specific time period
  • It indicates a specific standard or regulations
  • It indicates a rate of something
  • Measurement or multiplying
  • Indicating a position or origin

Example sentences using each meaning of by

Implying that a noun is near or next to something

The shop is close to the church that is by the river.

By the castle, there are nice stables for the horses.

In the first sentence it indicates that the church is close by or next the river and that the shop is close to the church. In the second sentence is indicates that at the castle there are stables. In both sentences it indicates where a noun (church, castle) is.

Referring to the type of transport

We are travelling by airplane.

We already made plans to travel by car.

In both sentences by indicates what mode of transport is being used. Just remember that your travel on foot and not by foot.

Indicating a time period

You must submit your essay by next week Friday.

I will be done by 6 o clock tonight.

The project will be done by next April.

In both sentences it indicates a time period. The first sentence indicate a longer period such as a week. The second sentence indicate a shorter time period in hours. The third sentence indicates a time period of months or even years.

Going past or beyond something

You have to come by the garden, to get to my aunt’s house.

The car drove by the house.

In both sentences it indicates that you have to go past something. In the first sentence it indicates that when you reach the garden, you must go past it to read your destination. In the second sentence it indicates that the car went past the house.

Indicating increase or decrease

Since the markets struggled, the price of bread has increased by 50%.

Due to the oversupply of milk, the price has decreased by 20%.

In both sentences by indicates the amount of the increase or decrease.

It can indicate the way in which something is done

For this transaction, I wish to pay by card.

When buying a car, she wanted to pay by bank deposit.

In both sentences it indicates that a specific form of payment will be used.

Indicate how something happened as a result of something

Her death was caused by a gun shot.

His hair loss is caused by the bad shampoo he uses.

In both sentences by is used to explain the first part of the sentence. In explains what happened to cause the situation.

Specific time period

During the day the sun is very harsh on your skin, it will be best to travel by car.

Wild predators are very active during the day, therefore we must travel by car.

In the sentences there are certain time periods mentioned such as during the day. This is a specific time period, because at night it is not the case.

Specific regulations or standards

It is prohibited by law to sell alcohol to an underage person.

You are not allowed to swim in this pool, it is prohibited by park regulations.

In both sentences the by explains the reason why you are not allowed to do something. It indicates the reason.

A rate of something

You will be paid by the hour for your work.

Sugar is sold by the kilogram.

Both sentences indicate that there is a certain rate that is used to calculate something.

Measurement or multiplying and division

The room is 3meters by 2meters big.

Four by four is sixteen.

What is 8 divided by 2?

Origin or position

She is British by birth.

My mom is a nurse by profession, but now she stays at home.

In the first sentence her origin is explained after the use of by. In the second sentence the mom’s profession is explained. However, in the second sentence it indicates that nurse it what the mom is trained to do. It does not mean the mom works as a nurse.

The preposition through

Through is used to imply the meaning from one preposition to another preposition of something. It indicates the one side of something to the other side of something.

There are various meaning for through as well, however not as many as for by.

Here are the most common definitions of through:

  • Indicates from one side to other side
  • It gives reason
  • It indicates going past something
  • It indicates that something is finished or completed
  • It can enforce the meaning of across

Example sentences using through

Indicate from one side to the other side

You have to go through the main building to reach my office

They will go through the forest to the reach the town.

Both sentences indicate that you will travel through something to reach something else.

It gives reason

It is through your own doing that you are now unemployed.

Through various studies they have come to the same conclusion.

In both sentences it indicates that something had to happen to explain the rest. It explains the reason why something has happened.

Going past something

You will have to go through the exams first.

It is through great difficulty that we will achieve this.

In both sentences it indicate that you will move past something to achieve something else. Please note that it does not mean that you have to physically pass something.

Something is finished or completed

Finally, we are through all the work

Have you read through all the pages?

In both sentences it indicates that you had to go through something to reach the end. This can be physically going over something or it indicates that the end has been reached.

Enforcing the meaning of across

We had to find our way through the mountain to reach the town.

There was no way through the pond, they had to go around it.

In both sentences through can be replaced with across. By using through instead of across it enforces the difficulty level of what must be completed.

In conclusion

Using by and through correctly in sentences can bring across your message more clearly. It will enable you to construct sentences with proper grammar.

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References :


[0][iii] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/by
[1]http://www.photos-public-domain.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/grammar.jpg