"By" vs. "Via" in the English grammar

By vs. Via

'By' and 'via' are commonly confused by English learners. In this lesson, we will learn when to use each of them and their uses.

"By" vs. "Via" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between 'by' and 'via' is that 'by' can be used to refer to many different meanings but 'via' is only used to show a small number of things.

By and Via

Tools

When we want to show the tools, instruments, and platforms that were used for an action to be fulfilled, we use 'by' and 'via.'

I never pay by cheque. = I never pay via cheque.

He learned English by Langeek website. = He learned English via Langeek website.

I talked to him by Skype. = I talked to him via Skype.

Tip!

A more common way of talking about the tools used to fulfill an action is using 'with.' These tools can be ingredients, body parts, or objects.

I never pay with cheque.

He learned English with Langeek website.

Agent

When we are talking about who or what has done the action, we only 'by.' Have a look:

This book is by Virginia Woolf.

The car was driven by a bulky woman.

Tip!

Note that when using 'by' to show the agency, we mainly use passive voice.

Method

We also use 'by' and 'via' to show how something is done. This could include methods or the means of something. In this case, 'via' is much less common and might be considered odd. For example:

She was arrested by force. = She was arrested via force.

He bought the house by selling her car. = He bought the house via selling her car.

Through

We use 'by' and 'via' to talk about which road, or entrance someone uses to get to a place.

He entered via the door. = He entered by the door.

We went to Heartland by the country route. = We went to Heartland via the country route.

Where You Should Only Use By

Location

We use 'by' to talk about something that is near or at the side of something else. In this case, we cannot replace it by 'via.'

Lord M is always by her side. (Not "Lord M is always via her side.")

He walked by them as he hadn't noticed them. (Not "He walked via them as he hadn't noticed them.")

Measurement

We also use 'by' to show and talk about measurements.

All the workers here re paid by the hour.

The floor is measured thirteen meters by twelve.

Time and Duration

We use 'by' to talk about the duration of an action or event. We can get more specific with time as well. We can use 'by' to set a deadline like 'not later than,' or 'at or before.' Have a look:

Turn in your assignments by midnight.

We were on the road by day.

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