Then or Than?

By Erin

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Many people confuse the words then and than. They’re separated by just one little letter, and lots of people even pronounce them nearly the same way.

Then (rhymes with Jen) is a word that’s used to mark time, or show a sequence of events. For example:

First, preheat the oven to 325. Then, grease a baking sheet.

Back then, I didn’t know what I was doing.

“If you want to go to the ball,” Cinderella’s stepmother sneered, “then you’ll need to find something suitable to wear.”

Than (rhymes with Jan) is used to make comparisons and only to make comparisons. Anytime you use than, you should be able to substitute the words “compared with” or “in comparison to.” If it doesn’t work, you probably meant to say “then.”

I’m shorter than everyone in my family.

Organic produce is more expensive than regular produce.

Cinderella wanted to go to the ball more than anything!

It is much more common to substitute then for than than vice versa. Be sure to check yourself carefully!

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5 Responses to “Then or Than?”

  • Krissy

    I always mess this one up. This is a really good way to remember the difference – I’ve never heard it explained so clearly.

  • Erin

    Great, Krissy! I’m glad I could help.

  • Roshawn

    Nice Erin. I’ll try to remember this while writing my novel.

    Cheers. 🙂

  • Kevin Buckingham

    Back in my University days we kept it straight with the nemonic “I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me THAN a pre-frontal lobotomy”.

  • Hgoor

    The word then has many uses; however, than is only used in comparisons. So if you are wondering which word to use, ask yourself if the sentence is a comparison. If yes, use than. If no, use then

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