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Throughout or Through Out: Which is Correct?

“Throughout” is a helpful word to add to your vocabulary, but it can be tricky to know which way to write it. Is “throughout” or “through out” correct? 

Throughout is correct and should be written as one word. When through and out are used as separate words they retain their individual meanings. While the compound word throughout shares the definition of from one side to the other with through, throughout can also indicate every part of a space or object.

Let’s continue the journey to see how to use “throughout” correctly in your writing and in what scenarios you would need to use “through” alone. We’ll also look at some other compound words that you’ll often see in your writing and that of others.

Is “Throughout” One Word or Two?

In the case of “throughout” vs. “through out” in your writing, you will always use “throughout” as one word. Remember that “throughout” describes something in its entirety, in every part, while the word “through” alone describes going from one direction to another. “Out” simply means going away from something or leaving somewhere. 

Let’s take a look at an example.

  • The floodwaters spread throughout the land. 

Here, you can see that “throughout” describes all of the land area. If we separate throughout and write it as two words, you’ll read it like this:

  • The floodwaters spread through out the land.  

Writing the word this way will probably not confuse your reader too much — they’ll likely still understand your intended meaning. However, the word “out” here is unnecessary. 

Instead, you can write, “The floodwaters spread through the land.” In other words, the waters spread from one end to the other.

If you want to learn more about whether the word you are using is two words or one, check out “In Spite” or “Inspite”: Which is Correct?”  You will gain more insight into what to look out for in your writing.

Additionally, a useful dictionary that you can count on for definitions, origins, and phrases would be The Oxford New Essential Dictionary. In addition to finding more definitions and uses for “throughout,” you will find more creative ways to use it, too. 

Understanding the Difference Between “Through” and Throughout”

“Throughout” describes something in its entirety, while the word “through” generally suggests motion, usually focusing on a direction or goal. You can also use it to describe results, usage, completion, and success. 

You can use both “through” and “throughout” when describing space and time, but you would not use “through” and “out” successively as separate words. Both “through” and “throughout” refer to space, as in an area.

We use “throughout” in the sense of “in every part” or “the entire duration of time,” beginning to end. It occupies the entire area or location and the entire point in terms of space (source).

So how do you use “throughout” in a sentence? Below, you’ll find a few examples.

  1. The news updated the story throughout the day.
  2. He never left his wife’s side throughout her illness.
  3. The bells rang throughout the countryside.
  4. She could feel the pain throughout her whole body.

Each of the sentences above indicates that the duration of time or space occurs from beginning to end.

“Through” goes in a linear pattern, usually from one end to another or side to side. It can mean entering from one side and going through the other. “Through” can also mean to go all of the way. 

If you team up “through” with the word “go,” as you’ll see in the first example sentence below, it means to examine something. But when referencing time, “through” shows that something occurs from beginning to end. 

  1. We will go through this together.
  2. It rained all through the week.
  3. The accident happened through no fault of your own.
  4. Are you through with that book?

What About Thru? 

As a side note, “through” is the preferred spelling over its rarer partner, “thru.” “Thru” is considered shorthand or slang, and it is better for informal writing such as messages to friends or in the example of “drive-thru.” 

It is best not to use this in situations such as in academic writing or for a job application as it will appear unprofessional and unnecessary.

brown wooden analog wall clock
Image by Nick Fewings via Unsplash

Using “Throughout” In a Sentence: More Examples

You can use the word “throughout” as a preposition, indicating a spatial relationship, or adverb (a modifier) in a sentence. 

To use “throughout” in a sentence as a preposition, you’ll need to place it before a pronoun or noun. As an adverb, “throughout” modifies an adjective, verb, or another adverb. Below are some examples:

  • He remained in the city throughout his vacation

“Vacation” is the noun, and it follows “throughout.”

  • He repainted throughout the building. 

“Repainted” is the verb that “throughout” modifies.

When you use “throughout” in a sentence, it is important to keep the word together on the same line. If a line breaks up the sentence, always keep your compound word together.  

Whether the compound word is open, closed, or hyphenated, ensuring that it is not split into two words by a line or section break will retain your intended meaning and avoid confusion for your reader. 

Choosing “Through” Over “Throughout”

Again, if you are not describing the entirety of something, the word “through” would be an optimal alternative. You can use “through” as a preposition, adverb, or adjective. 

As a preposition, you’ll place it before a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun. And as an adverb, “through” modifies an adjective, verb, or another adverb. And as an adjective, it modifies a noun. 

Take a look at a few example sentences below.

  • We drove through Chicago without stopping.

Chicago is the pronoun that “through” precedes or goes before.

  • She pushed the needle through the fabric. 

“Through” is modifying the verb “pushed” to show the direction that the needle is going. 

  • I work Monday through Thursday

“Through” is modifying the noun “Thursday,” showing how long the speaker is working.

More About Compound Words: Open, Closed, and Hyphenated

“Throughout” is one of many compound words, which are two or more words brought together to form a new word and meaning. Earlier, we discussed how to write “throughout” properly. Now, let’s explore how a few other compound words shape our sentences.

Open compound words are two separate words that remain separate but function as one unit with a specific meaning. Closed compound words are two words that come together to form one word (source). 

Hyphenated compound words are two or more words joined together with a hyphen in between. If you regularly use two or more words together with a specific intended meaning, they are likely compound words.

Below, you’ll see some common examples of open, closed, and hyphenated compound words. 

Full moonseasideLife-size 
Living roomeyesightjack-in-the-box
Real estatesailboatmother-in-law

You can use open compound words with an adjective and noun, such as “full moon.” “Full” is the modifying adjective, while “moon” is the noun. 

If you use an adverb that ends in -ly, and it is paired with another word, there will always be a space between the adverb and the other word. An example would be “newly formed.” “Newly” is the adverb, and “formed” is the verb.

The most common compound words have two nouns, an adjective and a noun, or one noun and one verb, but they can include other parts of speech. Below are a few examples of closed compound words:

  • Bookstore:  “Book” and “store” are nouns.
  • Underwater:  “Under” is a preposition of location, and “water” is a noun.
  • Understand:  “Under” is a preposition or adverb, and “stand” is a verb.

Hyphenated compound words consist of two or more words separated by hyphens. These compound words are generally adjectives. If the compound word acts as an adjective before a noun, it generally will require a hyphen. 

Some hyphenated compounds are words that have prefixes, though not all of these are hyphenated.

  • forty-acre farm
  • ex-wife
  • anteroom
brown sticky notes
Image by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

Knowing When to Use “Throughout” Versus “While” and “During”

If you are unsure whether to use “throughout” or another word, try running the sentence and your events through your head. This is often where some can become confused about whether to use “while,” “during,” or “throughout.”

If you are a multi-tasker, for example, you will likely use the word “while.” If you are doing something for a time, “during” would be a good word to choose. If something is happening the entire time, “throughout” would be the best choice to communicate your meaning correctly.

Sometimes, in your sentences, you will come across two events happening at once. This is where you would use “while.” For this option, you’ll use a full clause (subject + verb) after the word so your reader can see both events happening at once.

  • My toddler played with my makeup while I took a shower.  

“Toddler” is the subject, and “played” is the verb. Playing with makeup and taking a shower are two independent events. The toddler is playing with the makeup at the same time that the speaker is taking a shower.

“During” Versus “Throughout”

Another dilemma you may come across is choosing between “during” and “throughout.” The word “during” indicates something going on in relation to an event that occurs and lasts for a certain period of time. You would need a noun afterward. 

Another important thing to remember is that we do not use “during” to discuss the amount of time or the beginning or end of the event. It does not specify how much time or at what point the other event is taking place.

  • He went for a walk several times during his wife’s surgery.  

In the sentence above, “surgery” is the noun. We do not know if he walked at the beginning, middle, or toward the end of her surgery. We only know that he walked multiple times at some point.

  • He went for a walk several times throughout his wife’s surgery.  

Using “throughout” here indicates that he went for multiple walks the entire time of his wife’s surgery.

Another way that you can use “throughout” is to keep your sentences short and simplify a bigger group of synonymous words. Synonyms are words that mean the same or near the same as another word.  Below are some example phrases that have a similar meaning to the shorter word “throughout.”

  • Through the whole of
  • From beginning to end
  • High and low

History and Etymology of “Throughout”

“Throughout” is ranked #1425 in the United States for writing and #839 in speaking. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is in the top 1% of look-up popularity. 

“Throughout ” emerged sometime around the 13th century, and people used the term as both a preposition and an adverb. In Middle English, the spelling was thurgh-out, roughly translating to “through and out the other side of” (source). 

“Through” became part of everyday language before 900 AD. It started in Old English as thurh, thruh, and therh and moved to thurgh in Middle EnglishThis article was written for

People first began to use “through” as a preposition around the 12th century and as an adjective and adverb in the 13th century.  Because it relates to the word “throughout,” it is also in the top 1% of search queries.

Final Thoughts

Writing a word one way or another can change the meaning, so you do need to be careful. One space can make a big difference in communicating your intended meaning correctly, especially with compound words like “throughout.” Still, compound words can add flair to your writing and bring more of your ideas together. 

Remember that using “through” and “out” separately is unnecessary; you’ll most often choose between the compound word “throughout” or “through” on its own.