Difference between Throw, Cast, and Fling

Hi students, it’s Shayna, your teacher from espressoenglish.net and today I just want to make a quick video explaining the difference between the words throw, cast and fling. A student wrote to me and asked me about the difference between these three words because they all seem very similar and he had been searching the internet and couldn’t find out what the difference was. Today I’m going to teach you these three words and give you an important vocabulary lesson.

Throw, cast and fling all describe the same basic action, which is to take something with your hand and to throw it or make it fly through the air.

Throw

But of these three, the most common one is the word throw. In every day life, when talking about this action of taking something with your hand and making it fly through the air, we usually use the word throw.

In a lot of sports, we throw a ball, for example. Baseball and American football, we throw a ball, or if you’re playing with your dog. A very common thing to play with your dog is a game called fetch where you take a stick and you throw it and then the dog goes and retrieves the stick and brings it back to you. That’s called playing fetch with your dog, and you throw the stick and the dog goes and gets it. So throw is our everyday verb for this action.

Cast

The word cast. It means the same thing: to throw, but the word cast is a little bit of an old fashioned word. You’ll usually see this in literature, religious texts like the Bible, poetry and things like that.

For example, in the Bible there’s a story about a woman who was caught sleeping with another man who was not her husband and she was going to be punished by stoning. People were going to throw stone and kill her, but then Jesus said, “Whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” You can see that the word cast, it means the same thing as throw, but it’s used in religious texts and literature and some kind of more formal and old fashioned writing. In everyday English, we usually don’t use this word.

Actually, the only place where we do use cast, is in the sport of fishing. When you go fishing, you have a long fishing pole, or fishing rod, and when you’re going to put it into the water, you bring it back and then you kind of throw the line into the water to catch the fish. That is called casting. You cast the line into the water. That’s a very specific example where the verb cast is used.

Fling

Then we have fling. Fling also means to throw something, but fling has the connotation of throwing it carelessly or without control.

For example, if I am a messy person, then maybe I will come home from work and just fling my jacket onto the bed. I don’t really care where it lands on the bed, I just fling it onto the bed.

Another example would be when you have a baby or a very small child, and you give the baby a toy, and when the baby doesn’t want the toy, the baby flings it onto the floor. They just throw the toy without control and they don’t care where it lands. Fling is sort of more specific. It has the connotation of throwing something without control, without caring where it might land. Okay?

I hope now you understand the difference between these very similar vocabulary words, and I think that this question is a good one because when English learners study vocabulary oftentimes you’ll find three words or more that all seem to mean the same thing, and you might wonder, well, what’s the difference? Can I just use any of these any time, or is there some other difference?

That’s why I think it’s really important to have a native English speaker help you with knowing which words are the most common, and which words you can use all the time in every day life, and which words are not so common, and then which words have a specific connotation or a specific extra meaning.

If you’d like to learn more vocabulary, I have courses that are specifically about English vocabulary, and they try to teach you the most practical and the most useful vocabulary so that you’re learning words that we use in every day life.

You’re not learning old fashioned words, or words that you’re never going to hear. I really try to be very practical in these courses. I have two levels. They’re called the the Vocabulary Builder Level One and Level Two. If you’d like more information about them, you can click the link that is in this video and read more, see the lesson list, and get a free sample. Thank you so much for your question and I will see you in the next video.