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1. I take care of my teeth by brushing them three times a day.

2. I take care of my teeth through brushing them three timesaday.

3. I learn English by watching English movies and reading books written in the language.

4. I learn English through watching English movies and reading books written in the language.

I tried to make up some sentences. Are they correct? I was wondering how to use the two words: by and through .

Many thanks!!!!!
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Only 'by' is correct in your sentences.
'by' is used when we are talking about the means that something is done.
By brushing my teeth, i keep them healthy.

'through' refers to the process by which something is achieved.
Success only comes through hard work.
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Thank you very much, Bazz!
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Sorry for misspelling your name, Bazza!
David, Co-moderator
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Location: Sacramento, California
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quote:
3. I learn English by watching English movies and reading books written in the language.

4. I learn English through watching English movies and reading books written in the language.
Hi, Ruifeng,

I agree with Bazza that only "by" is correct in your sentences -- given what you very likely desire your sentences to mean. But there is nothing intrinsically incorrect about using "through" here; it simply gives a different meaning from "by."

Thus, in (3), "by" conveys intentionality and method: you achieve the result of learning English by X-ing and Y-ing. In (4), "through" conveys mere causality. It suggests that your learning English is an unintentional byproduct of your X-ing and Y-ing. Compare:
  • I've never sought to learn slang expressions in English. I learn them through listening to rap music.
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