Vocab Lab: Via

“He told the office he would send the application via fax.” Although it’s a tiny little word, “via” is easy to apply and can be used in a wide variety of situations. Many people are uncertain, however, about exactly what it means and how to use it. Get in the know with this article.

History

Via is actually not English — it comes to us from Latin where it means “road”. In keeping with this, the original application of the word in English was as a substitute for “through”. It was used exclusively in travel-related situations to explain, for example, that you may have traveled to Philadelphia via New York. This would mean you passed through the Big Apple on your way to old Philly.

Latin did not actually have a “v” sound; though “v” was written, it was pronounced like “w”. As a result, via would originally have been said “wee-ah”. In English, however, this pronunciation is never used. Instead, either “vy-ah” or “vee-ah (vī-ə or vē-ə) is considered correct.

Usage

Nowadays, the accepted uses of “via” have expanded. The word used to have the meaning “by way of”, as demonstrated above, but now it can also express “by means of”. This has widened the situations in which it can be used from travel instances to almost any context.

Consider the opening example: “via” in this context is used to express the tool involved — the means by which the task was accomplished. Via is a preposition, but it acts similarly to particles on some other languages. For example, just as you might say 지하철로 in Korean or 地下鉄で in Japanese, you could say “via subway” to express the same idea. “Via” functions just like the these particles to express a means of achieving something (though only in the sense of using a “tool” of some kind). You can attach it to any form of transportation (car, bus, airplane, etc.) and most forms of technology (phone, email, fax, etc.). It can also be applied to explain the relationship between more complicated phrases, making it a very versatile grammar option.

Practice Time

Replace a word or phrase in the sentences below with “via” to express the relationship between the given ideas. Check your work at the end of the page.

  1. I should be there in 5 minutes — I’m coming by bus.
  2. When you finish your paper, send it to me through email, ok?
  3. The researcher derived the formula for the transfer of heat based on complicated principles and careful experimentation.
  4. Whenever you write a formal paper, you should check your formatting against the established style guides.
  5. The students planned an extensive spring break trip taking them to Spain by way of England and France.
  6. If you learn by direct experience, you will never forget what you discover.
  7. This broadcast was made possible through funding from viewers like you.
  8. If you come down Route 66 you’ll get to see the landscape on the way.
  9. The meaning was expressed in several languages to help travelers.
  10. Amber sent word by way of Ethan that she wasn’t going to make it to the meeting.

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  1. I should be there in 5 minutes — I’m coming via bus.
  2. When you finish your paper, send it to me via email, ok?
  3. The researcher derived the formula for the transfer of heat via complicated principles and careful experimentation.
  4. Whenever you write a formal paper, you should check your formatting via the established style guides.
  5. The students planned an extensive spring break trip taking them to Spain via England and France.
  6. If you learn via direct experience, you will never forget what you discover.
  7. This broadcast was made possible via funding from viewers like you.
  8. If you come via Route 66 you’ll get to see the landscape on the way.
  9. The meaning was expressed via several languages to help travelers.
  10. Amber sent word via Ethan that she wasn’t going to make it to the meeting.

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