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Throes vs. Throws (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between throes and throws with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

We've looked at so many homophones in 2021; so let's finish the year with one last pairing: throes and throws. One refers to pangs or spasms, while the other refers to tossing or projecting objects through the air.

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So let's look at the differences between throes and throws and when to use each.

Throes vs. Throws (Grammar Rules)

Throes vs. Throws

Throes is the plural version of the noun throe, which refers to a pang or spasm. For instance, people may say someone is experiencing the throes of death or throes of love when they're suffering through either.

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Meanwhile, throws can be used as a noun or verb. As a verb, throws refers to the action of tossing or projecting something through the air (like a baseball to a catcher or dishes at a cheating spouse). There are other connotations as well, including a person who throws their arms around someone or throws a temper tantrum. As a plural noun, throws refers to the action of throwing or a piece of clothing (like a small blanket) that people may use to cover themselves.

Make sense?

Here are a couple examples of throes and throws:

Correct: He found it hard to sleep when he was caught in the throes of passion.
Incorrect: He found it hard to sleep when he was caught in the throws of passion.

Correct: Her first throws missed the target.
Incorrect: Her first throes missed the target.

While it's possible that a football player caught in the throes of competition could make throws of passion, it's more likely people would refer to them as competitive (or passionate) throws. Heaven knows my grammar checker keeps trying to correct me in such instances. I don't have a cute memory trick for picking the right word, but maybe you can think about the past tense of throw as threw (both containing a "w"), while there is no past tense version of throe.

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