top of page

The Phrasal Verb 'Go Through' Explained

Updated: Mar 24

An explanation of the different meanings of the English phrasal verb 'go through', with lots of examples in context.


A rail tunnel opening out into a murky forest

Hello and welcome to my website for English learners all about English phrasal verbs! Read on to learn more about the phrasal verb 'go through'...


'Go through' is a common English phrasal verb with a lot of meanings that are in common usage in everyday speech. We can go through red lights, documents, traumatic events and competitions and sometimes we just don't go through with something. If all this sounds strange to you, read on and learn all the different ways that 'go through' is used in English! So, without further ado, let's get started....don't forget to leave a comment at the end!


GO THROUGH: KEY INFORMATION

Usage

Common

Number of meanings

8

Separable?

No

Past tense forms

Went through / Gone through

For more explanation of the terms in the table above, click here

 

The letters ABC written on a blackboard with books and chalk sticks in the foreground

THE BASICS

The phrasal verb 'go through' is made up of the verb 'to go' and the prepositional particle 'through', so before we look at the meanings of the phrasal verb itself, let's take a moment to familiarise ourselves with the individual words.


'To go' is one of the most common verbs in the English language and its main meaning is the idea of movement, either from one place to another or simply leaving a place and starting a journey. In addition to this, it has a wide variety of less common uses and meanings and is used to form the 'going to' future tense.


The particle 'through' is used to express movement from one side of something to the other, especially if it is an internal space. Furthermore, 'through' is also used with time, specifically the passage of time, and it also functions as a synonym of 'by' and 'as a result of', among other things. You may also have seen the alternative 'thru' used in English, which is an informal variation of 'through' and is only really used for "drive-thru' restaurants and in non-formal written communication.


Now that we have looked at the basics, let's take a look at the different meanings of the phrasal verb 'go through'....

 

MEANING 1: To physically move through something (literal)



CEFR Langage Level

A2 - Elementary

Usage

Common

British or American?

Both

Potential synonyms

To pass through, to get through

Separable?

No

Nouns commonly used with

Door, window, tunnel, wall, room

Let's begin things nice and easily with the literal meaning of the combination of the words 'go' and 'through', i.e. to move from one side of something to the other.


Most commonly you will hear this usage with everyday nouns such as 'door', 'window' and 'tunnel', as people or things regularly pass from one side of these to the other.


We also use this for rooms, especially when moving from one room to another room or to a different part of a building, such as from the dentist's waiting room to the dentist's office or from the public area of an airport to the departures area via customs.


A set of traffic lights on red

One last usage that you may come across here concerns driving a car, as when a red traffic light is showing and a car does not stop and continues driving, we say that it 'goes through a red light'.


Examples of usage....

Go through the door on your left and then follow the corridor until the end.
John threw the cricket ball in the wrong direction and it went through the kitchen window.
The doctor is ready to see you now, Mr. Smith. Please go through.
I am just going through customs at the airport, so I will give you a call once I am on the other side and in the departure lounge.
Roger was late for a work meeting and went through several read lights to try and get there on time.
 

MEANING 2: To suffer a negative experience



CEFR Language Level

B2 - Upper intermediate

Usage

Common

British or American?

Both

Potential synonyms

To suffer, to endure

Separable?

No

It is an inevitable fact of life that our existence is not always a happy one and from time to time we all have negative experiences and periods of suffering. When these unavoidable situations occur, we can say that we 'go through' them, as the next meaning of the phrasal verb 'go through' is 'to experience unpleasant and negative situations'.


As you would imagine, this application of 'go through' is used when talking about such things as disease, depression, abuse, death, grief and poverty, among other things. Moreover, it is used by speakers to label any period of suffering, trauma or severe unhappiness. This usage of 'go through' is quite strong in nature, so if you say you have gone through something, you want people to know that you have really suffered. For example, you would not use it for something trivial like losing your car keys or having a headache.


Grammatically, this application of 'go through' does take an object, but it is not separable. One thing to note with this usage is that although the past participle form is 'gone through', native speakers do also regularly use 'been through' as an alternative, without any discernible change in meaning. To note, the phrasal verb 'be through' does not otherwise exist in English.


Examples of usage....

Helen went through a lot in her childhood.
How dare you judge me! You have no idea what I have gone through in my life.
I went through a bout of depression last year but I am feeling much better now.
She has recently been through a nasty divorce from her husband.
 

MEANING 3: To check something methodically



CEFR Language Level

B2 - Upper intermediate

Usage

Medium

British or American?

Both

Potential synonyms

To examine, to check

Separable?

No

Let's move on from the previous depressing usage of 'go through' to the next meaning, which is 'to check something methodically'. For this usage, we are thinking mainly about the actions of searching and sorting.


Firstly, we use 'go through' when we want to check documents in a methodical and effective way from beginning to end, either to look for something in the document or to check for errors.


Secondly, we can also use it for spaces such as rooms, drawers, wardrobes when we are are searching for something and we want to make sure that we have covered every single space in our quest to find it.


Lastly, it is also possible to use 'go through' to mean to methodically check a set of items such as records or clothes etc, in order to to sort them into different categories. For example, if you have too many old clothes in your wardrobe, you might go through them one by one to decide which items you want to keep and which you want to throw away.


As with the previous meaning, the past participle 'been through' is often used here in perfect tenses.


Examples of usage....

Would you mind going through this document and checking for any errors before i submit it?
I've gone through my bedroom several times and I cannot find my phone charger anywhere!
Sarah went through a pile of her old clothes to decide which ones she wanted to keep.
My mum has been through my entire wedding guest list to decide if she is happy with all of the guests that I have invited!
 

MEANING 4: To practise something



CEFR Language Level

B2 - Upper intermediate

Usage

Medium

British or American?

Both

Potential synonyms

To practice, to go over

Separable?

No

Do you enjoy giving presentations? Some people love them and some people are terrified of them. Regardless of how you feel about them, it is always a good idea to practice for them in order to give the best presentation that you can. This brings me to our next meaning of 'go through', which is 'to practise something' and is normally used in preparation for a test, a presentation or a performance.


The process of 'going through' something normally involves practising something from beginning to end, hence the idea of 'through'. As mentioned before, it can be used for presentations, speeches, exam revision, stories, excuses and anything else that may need a an element of practise before the real event.


Another time that you may hear this is with actors who 'go through' their lines prior to a performance in order to practise and memorise them.


Examples of usage....

Can we just go through the presentation one more time?
I went through my wedding speech so many times the day before, so when I did it, it was perfect.
Let's just go through our story one more time before we go to the police. It needs to be watertight!
 

MEANING 5: To exhaust resources



CEFR Language Level

B2 - Upper intermediate

Usage

Medium

British or American?

Both

Potential synonyms

To use up, to get through

Separable?

No

The next meaning of 'go through' that we will consider is one that we can all be guilty of occasionally and that is 'to use a lot of something'.


Normally, this application of 'go through' is used for items that can be depleted or run out and typically includes food, resources and money. It can be applied both to a resource that we can use until it has all gone or to a resource that we use a lot of over a period of time, especially when this is not normal, in which case there can be a degree of surprise or moaning attached to it.


Examples of usage....

My grandchildren have been staying with me this weekend and I have managed to go through 3 cartons of milk! It normally takes me a week for just one!
I didn't realise London was so expensive. I went through all of my spending money in the first three days and I had to ask my parents to send me some more.
You've gone through all of the bread, so if you want some, you will have to go and buy some more.
 

MEANING 6: To be approved



CEFR Language Level

C1 - Advanced

Usage

Medium

British or American?

Both

Potential synonyms

To be approved

Separable?

No

If you have ever been lucky enough to buy your own property, you will more than likely have experienced a waiting period whilst the the legal process was being completed, at which time you can say that the house sale has 'gone through'. That is because another meaning of the phrasal verb 'go through' is 'to be officially approved'.


For this usage of 'go through', it is mainly focussed on situations where there is a process over a period of time before something is officially accepted. Unsurprisingly, this can often be a legal process involving lawyers. Typically, these types of situations include property sales, laws, business deals or plans and divorces, all of which require an element of negotiation, paperwork and time before they are accepted or approved, or go through.


Examples of usage....

The sale of the house went through last month, so we are finally able to move to our new home now.
The proposed law was opposed and did not go through in the end.
Our divorce is due to go through next month, so I will be able to get married again after that.
 

MEANING 7: To progress to the next round of a competition



CEFR Language Level

C1 - Advanced

Usage

Medium

British or American?

Both

Potential synonyms

To progress, to move through, to get through

Separable?

No

For some reason whilst preparing for this blog post I was not able to find this next usage of 'go through' in a dictionary, however it is most certainly used on a fairly common basis by native English speakers and it is 'to progress to the next round in a competition'.


This application of 'go through' is in regular use for any competitions where there are rounds, typically with quarter finals, semi finals and a final. Unsurprisingly, it is also in common use when referring to sport. Oftentimes, we will specify what the next round is with the additional preposition 'to', however this is not always necessary and 'go through' on its own can be sufficient.


Examples of usage....

The winner of today's game will go through to the next round of the competition.
Only the first two athletes in this race will automatically go through.
England have gone through to the final of the World Cup after beating Italy in a tense match.
 

MEANING 8: To go through with something



CEFR Language Level

C1 - Advanced

Usage

Medium

British or American?

Both

Potential synoynms

To proceed

Separable?

No

For our eighth and final usage of 'go through' we need the additional preposition 'with'.


If someone 'goes through with something', it means that they talk about doing something and then actually do it. This is often when the action is unpleasant or difficult in some way. Often, you hear it after people make threats and then carry out the threatened action.


To make this a little clearer for you, let's look at an example....


John told me that he was going to steal some food from a shop. I didn't believe him, so I was very shocked when he went through with it and stole the food.


Here is another example....


Helen always talked about ending her marriage to Roger but I didn't believe her as I thought she was joking. She did go through with it in the end and now they are divorced!

Examples of usage....

I can't believe you went through with it! I didn't think you would!
That is just a threat to make you worried. There is no way that he would actually go through with it.
Do you think John will go through with it and take me to court?
 

This brings us to the end of the post, so thanks for reading. Now it is YOUR turn. Leave a comment on the blog post with your own sentence using 'go through'....don't be shy!


Sign up below to receive weekly phrasal verb emails and be the first to access each blog post as soon as it is published!


If you found the post useful, please share it on social media, so together we can help as many English learners as possible to understand and master these tricky phrasal verbs. See you next time! James 😀



留言


JOIN THE MAILING LIST TO RECEIVE NEW POSTS DIRECT IN YOUR INBOX!

Thanks for submitting! A new phrasal verb post will be emailed to you every Friday!

bottom of page