Threw, Through, Thru

Twilight from the Twilight and Thebes Show called in with this question.

Mignon Fogarty
3-minute read

Simplified Spelling Society

You Americans out there who are cringing should remember that one of the reasons we have American spellings of words such as theater, honor, and catalog is that luminaries including Noah Webster, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, and Theodore Roosevelt advocated for simplified spelling, and many of them also supported simplified spellings of words such as though (tho), through (thru), and night (nite), which of course haven't taken on the cloak of wide acceptability. Roosevelt even tried to mandate that government documents use the simple spellings during his presidency. His proposal was ahead of its time and rejected by Congress, but some of his suggested simplifications have become the current standard spellings (1, 2, 3, 4). The British Simplified Spelling Society, which was founded in 1908—two years after Roosevelt's failed attempt to change spelling in America—still exists, and they often make the news when they protest at the Scripps National Spelling Bee (5).


Thanks again for the question, Twilight. If you have questions, please post them to the Grammar Girl Facebook or Twitter pages.
1. "Bee Man Demonstrates at Grand Hyatt." Press Release. May 31, 2006.  (accessed August 12, 2008).
2. Reilly, J.G. "Theodore Roosevelt and Spelling Reform." Homepage of John Reilly. 1998. (accessed August 12, 2008).
3. Brown, A.R. Spelling Reform in Context: A Typology, List & Bibliography of English Spelling Reform Proposals. Simplified Spelling Society: London. October, 1998. (accessed August 12, 2008).
4. "The Simpul Spelling Moovment." The Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Bathroom Reader Press: Ashland, OR. 1995 reprinted at: (accessed August 12, 2008)/
5. Venkataraman, N. "Spelling Reformers Picket Bee, Say 'Enuf Is Enuf',"ABCnews.com. May 30, 2007, (accessed August 12, 2008).
Interesting Links

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.



About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.