‘Thru' vs 'Through': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 29, 2022

Are you going ‘thru’ something or ‘through’ something? And what’s the difference between the two? We’ll cover that in this article, plus teach you how to use both phrases correctly in a sentence.

The short answer is that ‘through’ is the only formally accepted way to spell the word. ‘Thru’ is more of an informal word that’s used in reference to fast food drive-thrus. Both words mean essentially the same thing.

‘Thru’ vs. ‘Through’ – What is Right?

Since we know that ‘through’ is technically the only correct formal way to spell the word, we could argue that ‘through’ is the right way to spell the word. ‘Thru’ is simply an informal way to spell the word. You might see it in text messages and in social media posts and memes. You’ll never see it in formal writing, however.

‘Thru’ vs. ‘Through’: What’s the Difference?

The difference between these two words, as you’ve just learned, is that one is the formal, acceptable version of the word. ‘Thru’ is the informal way to spell the word when referencing a fast-food drive-through.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Thru’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘thru’ is: a “less common spelling of through.”

According to the usage guide, ‘tho’ and ‘thru’ have a long history of occasional use as spelling variants of ‘though’ and ‘through.’ They were extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Through’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘through’ as a preposition is: “used as a function word to indicate movement into at one side or point and out at another and especially the opposite of,” “by way of,” “used as a function word to indicate the passage from one end or boundary to another,” “without stopping for: past,” “used as a function word to indicate passage into and out of a treatment, handling, or process,” “used as a function word to indicate means, agency, or intermediacy: such as a) by means of: by the agency of, b) because of, c) by common descent from or relationship with,” and “over the whole surface or extent of: throughout.”

It also means: “used as a function word to indicate movement within a large expanse,” “used as a function word to indicate exposure to a specified set of conditions,” and “used as a function word to indicate a period of time: such as a) during the entire period of, b) from the beginning to the end of, c) to and including,” “used as a function word to indicate completion or exhaustion,” and “used as a function word to indicate acceptance or approval, especially by an official body.”

As an adverb, it means: “from one end or side to the other,” “from beginning to end,” “to completion, conclusion, or accomplishment,” “to the core: completely,” and “into the open: out.”

As an adjective, it means: “arrived at completion or accomplishment,” “washed-up, finished,” “admitting free or continuous passage: direct,” “extending from one surface to another,” “initiated at and destined for points outside a local zone,” “going from the point of origin to destination without change or reshipment,” and “of or relating to such movement.”

A few synonyms of the word include:


  • Amidst
  • Amongst
  • Mid
  • Among
  • Midst


  • Around
  • Over
  • Round
  • Throughout


  • Complete
  • Done
  • Finished
  • Completed
  • Down
  • Over
  • Concluded
  • Ended
  • Over with
  • Terminated
  • Up

How to Use ‘Through’ and ‘Thru’ in a Sentence

Now that we know what both words mean let’s look at how to use both in a sentence correctly.

  • Let’s just get through this and figure everything else out later.
  • Some people sadly didn’t make it through that horrible blizzard.
  • Let’s get some food – I’m starving. But let’s go through the drive-thru.
  • People don’t understand what men go through on Valentine’s Day, my cousin says.
  • Go through those doors and make a left. You’ll see the elevators to your right.
  • Where were you when I was going through depression?

Final Thoughts on ‘Thru’ and ‘Through’ 

Now that you know what ‘thru’ and ‘through’ both mean and how to use them both in a sentence, you can confidently form sentences of your own. Use the above examples as a guide for proper usage.

If you ever get stuck, you can always come back here and refresh your memory.

We’ve also got a whole library of content focused on explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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