Difference between Through and Thru

Updated on June 23, 2017

Is it “drive-through” or “drive-thru”? Some fast food chains have “drive-thru” signs, but there are also stores that have “drive-through” signs. So, which one is correct? And if both “through” and “thru” are being used interchangeably, does it mean to say they have the same meaning? Find out in this article!

Definitions

Through

The word through is an adjective, adverb, and a preposition. It means:

  1. From one point, side, or end of something (e.g. window, door, tube, passage, pipe) to the other; for example: Lea was unaware that her mother was watching her through the ivy-covered gate.
  2. During a certain period until the end of the same period; for example: The island didn’t get a lot of visitors. Only a tiny resort remained open through the year.
  3. By means of a certain method, service, or person; for example: The bouquet of flowers was delivered through a bike courier.
  4. Until the end of an unpleasant experience; for example: Martha lived through many years of deceit and abuse.
  5. Affecting all parts of something or someone; for example: The news about Mae’s extravagant wedding spread through the ladies’ dorm.
  6. Finished or over; for example: I’m almost through with this movie.

thru

The word thru is another variation of the word “through.” It is considered a non-standard spelling of “through” and should only be used for informal writing, such as social media conversations, chat, text or SMS, memos, or notes. It can also be used for stylized branding.

Let’s take a look at some examples below:

  1. Kayla texted, “Hate my date! He just wants drive-thru food.”
  2. Tom, dad left a note for you. It says, “Be sure the cleaner goes all the way thru the pipe.”
  3. The best package delivery service in the country is SpeedThru Delivery.

Through vs Thru

What, then, is the difference between “through” and “thru”?

“Through” and “thru” have the same meaning. The only difference is that “through” is the official spelling of the word. It is what you should use if you are writing a formal document such as a school paper, news article, letters, resume, job application, etc. “Thru,” on the other hand, is the non-standard spelling. It can be used in informal writing such as chat, text, notes, etc. or in stylized branding.

Comparison Chart

ThroughThru
Standard or official spelling of the wordNon-standard spelling
Used in formal writing such as school papers, news articles, letters, resumes, and job applicationsUsed in informal writing such as text, chat, notes, and memos; also used in stylized branding