As a mandarin teacher,I've been being asked "what's the difference between ...and ...?""How can I tell the difference between .. and ..?",everytime I explained in detail to them,but the real key to solve this problem is the notice of collocation and context.
As you know that chinese words are consists of one to several characters,every single character has its own meaning,so if you ask me "AB" and "AC" ,they are the same? Of course they are not the same!
For example,"通过” and “透过”，the difference is "通"and"透”，“通”is like “A and B are connected without barrier” "透” is like penetrate,collocate with light,visual sense,while "通”is more general,grand meaning,so where we can use "通过”，it is not sure that we can use"透过”，where we can use "透过”,we can use "通过”，Here are the examples:
阳光通过白色的窗帘洒落进来。（grammatically correct but not beautiful）
So,focus on the collacation and context but not the difference only.