These words look very similar to each other and are easy to confuse and spell.

In this lesson and video we're taking a thorough look through these nightmare words and though you might get confused keep your thought processes open while we work on how you can remember them. Phew!

Can you see the letter pattern they all have? -ough a tricky pattern to learn and spell. They also all have the th- letter pattern.

In my other video on the history and pronunciation of -gh- words video we learnt that these -gh- words are Anglo-Saxon words and were written with just an h and used to be pronounced like the Scottish loch. But then the French invaded and added a g to the h to reflect the 'hard' h sound.

This sound eventually became silent or pronounced with a "f" at the end of some words. We leave the gh in there to show the origins and history of the word.

It means in one side out and the other: go through a door, walk through the park, struggle through until pay day.

We've also got throughout. He checks stock throughout the warehouse.

Through is the only one of the words that starts with t.h.r.- "thr". 

We have a "thr" + "oo" (a long vowel sound). We get it confused with the past tense of throw - threw. threw and through are homophones, which means they have the same sound but different meaning and spelling (check out the homophones video and info here

through has it's own pattern and sound thr like three, throw, throttle so the pronunciation can help with the first sound but then you have to learn the -ough pattern which they all have. Use a memory trick or use the Look Say Cover write check method the help with the learning of it (watch my video about this method).

She was watching him through the kitchen window.
be/get through: I tried to phone the mayor's office, but I couldn't get through.

There are tons of meaning and phrases for through click here and find out more


Though means in spite of the fact that; however, but, and we have even though and although which is more formal

The sun was shining though it wasn’t that warm. Even though it's small, the room has a spacious feel.

Though is made up of th + "oh" the ough is a short vowel sound "oh" memory trick - though doughnuts (Brit spelling) are oh so delicious u get hefty

Though we are only a small country, we have a long and glorious history.
even though: He went on fighting even though he was wounded.

used after an adjective: Poor though her family was, they would never ask for help.
Odd though it may seem, I never found out his name.

Click here for more info


thorough - done with great care and completeness: Planners need a thorough understanding of the subjectIt would be great if everyone had a thorough knowledge of English spelling.
We can also add ly and make thoroughly.She examined it thoroughly.

The key to a good interview is thorough preparation.

through and though are pronounced with one syllable but thorough has 2 syllables "th ru". It sounds like borough, Scarborough, Boroughbridge.

It's like through with an extra o added after the th th o rough.

Come up with memory trick that can help with this word.

For more info click here


The last word is thought and is the most common word of the lot. It's the past tense of think - I thought this was the end but it's not. And also a noun a thought , an idea.

thought is made up of th + ort ( a long vowel sound) It's like though with a t at the end.

thought sounds like and is spelt like the others in the -ought pattern bought, brought, fought, ought, sought, nought. So if you can spell one of these you can relate it to thought. If not then come up with a memory trick.

Now do this exercise. Type in the correct word.
Then press Get Answer! Check your spelling letter by letter.

1: This means to be careful and complete =

2: This is the past tense of think

3: This word can mean: but, however, in spite of the fact that=

4: This word means go in one end and come out the other

5: The police made a ____ search of the house.

6: I've just had a great ______!

7: Even _______ the interview went very well I didn't get the job.

8: I walk to work ______ the park every day.

9: She may be a slow worker but she's very ______.

10: I quite like him. I don't like his wife, ____.

**Click here to go to the though, thought, thorough, through spelling test**