Through vs. Thru

When I was still running this blog through Blogger, I started having polls on the site.  Unfortunately, WordPress does not currently have a poll widget for this layout.  (If anyone knows how to do it without creating one’s own layout, please let me know!)

Here is the poll and the final results:

When is the word “thru” okay?

  • Always (1 vote — 0%)
  • In some circumstances (51 votes — 43%)
  • Only if it’s part of a proper name (19 votes — 16%)
  • Never (47 votes — 39%)

Total votes: 118

Thanks to everyone who voted!  I wish I could have polls on here again.

Personally, I voted for never.  I detest the word thru.  I think it’s lazy, unnecessary and an insult to our language.

Granted, I can also see the other point of view.  I think that the English language is complicated, especially when written, and so many of our words have silent letters.  That makes it difficult for children and people learning English.  I speak French, Italian and Spanish (the latter quite badly), and I love that I can read an Italian sentence aloud and pronounce it perfectly because everything is pronounced the same way.  (French is another story.)

But does that mean we need to invent new words to make it easier for those who struggle?  I don’t think so.

If we keep going at this rate, are we going to see the word enuf appearing in print soon?

43% of you said that the word thru is okay in certain circumstances.

So, tell me, which circumstances are those?


11 responses to “Through vs. Thru

  1. “drive-thru” is officially recognized by the American Heritage Dictionary (although it also recognizes “drive-through”)

  2. All right, I admit to have voted for “thru” to be okay “in some circumstances”. To me, these are: on street signs because their code is cryptic anyway, and on those sign posts of fast food restaurants. The shortened language somehow matches the philosophy of eating there.

    Of course, one should be able to distinguish between different language registers.
    But spelling reform has been and will go on being a topic in the English-speaking world.

  3. I’m with you, and I’m not. I like your blog because I share your zeal for proper grammar. Poorly written signs and spelling errors are fingernails on the chalkboard for me. I do realize, however, that language evolves, changes and resists legislation. There is no such thing as a “pure” language. Eventually, we may see “enuf” in the dictionary, because usage does that to a word. “Thru” is here to stay – I voted with the majority.

  4. Dennis Fischman

    “Enuf” is already part of the title of an award winning play by Ntozaki Shange.

  5. I feel that “thru,” as part of a proper name, will always be technically correct. By this, I mean that it is up to any given company to create a proper name for logos, products, etc. These may include the word “thru,” and that decision must be respected. Anyone writing about that company’s products will have to use “thru,” should it be used.

    It isn’t great, but it is to be respected, at least when writing it for, say, other publications.

  6. I just started reading The Grammar Vandal and especially love your black marker approach. I wasn’t reading when this survey took place but had I been, I would have voted for “In Some Circumstances.”

    I appreciate the evolution of language that Phillip mentions above and think thru is here to stay and maybe enuf is too. I think context plays a big part in my vote for “certain circumstances.” Language, especially vocabulary, is always contextually sensitive and most of us know exactly what register to use in various contexts.

    Keep the eagle eye roving. Your perspective is delightful.

  7. Hmmm….good points all around, but is it really going to get to the point of “enuf” in professional writing?

    I hope that evolution doesn’t take place until I’m at least middle-aged. I’ll have time to prepare by then. 🙂

    Glad to hear you’re a new fan, Patricia!

  8. Kate, I think this may be a very good video for you to watch. It was filmed at the TED conference, which is an annual invitation-only conference of 1000 great minds that come together to share ideas. The speaker in this clip is Erin McKean, who is the editor in chief of the Oxford American Dictionary and the editor of the language quarterly Verbatim. I thought of your blog when I watched it, and I would be interested to read what you think of it.

  9. I just had a problem as I was writing. My sentence said, “. . . through though situations.” Through and tough are two words that look too much alike to put together, so I used the variation “thru” to make it look better. Now my sentence looks like “. . .thru tough situations.”
    It looks alot better and it won’t confuse my readers.

  10. I’d just like to point out that you said the latter after listing French, Italian and Spanish. Latter can only be used in lists of two. Oops.

  11. Dear Kate,
    maybe the late president Roosevelt will be able to enlighten you about this question:
    There has been progress in spelling for the last 300 years (or more). Who are we to stop now? Shouldn’t our children have a better live than we have?
    yours sincerely,

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