Then and than are commonly confused in writing and always have been. Linguistically, they’re identical twins, and they are only one letter apart, so they are easy to get confused.
When to Use Then in a Sentence
Then is typically used as an adverb or adjective, and it is often used when referring to time. Then is also used in the following situation:
- As a point in time
Example: I ate too many chips then.
- What happens next
Example: Mix the dry ingredients, and then add the wet ingredients.
- As another way to say also
Example: Melvin asked me to fix his laptop, and then his TV.
- As another way to say therefore (often in an if/then statement)
Example: If you are going to be late, then don’t bother coming.
- To show something existed at a time indicated
Example: In 1986, the then president changed the vision for the company.
Then usually comes after words such as since and until.
- Since then nothing has changed.
- Until then everyone must work.
Then often fits into phrases such as the following:
- Just then
- Back then
Below are a few additional examples of then in a sentence.
- Sally was at the grocery store then.
- Come over after work; I’ll be ready then.
- First there were three, and then there was one.
- Read the paper, and then provide feedback.
When to Use Than in a Sentence
Than is a conjunction used to make comparisons. It is the word that follows other, rather, less, and more. Additionally, it is the word to choose in phrases such as the following:
- Smaller than
- Smoother than
- Further than
Following are a few examples of when to use than in a sentence.
- He is shorter than I am.
- Amanda is a better cook than I am.
- Her jewelry is more expensive than my jewelry.
- Raymond was sicker than a dog last week.
Helpful Tips When Using Then or Than
- The word then is used to indicate time, and both then and time have an “E” in them.
- The world than has an “A” in it, and comparison has an “A” in it as well.
- If you write the word “next” instead of “then,” will the sentence make sense?
Example: “Andy will go to the office next” makes sense, so here you would write “Andy will go to the store then.”
Example: “Cindy likes bananas better next oranges” makes no sense. Therefore, you must write “Cindy likes bananas better than oranges.”
- If you write the phrase “in comparison to” instead of the word “than,” will the sentence make sense?
Example: “Leasing a car costs more in comparison to buying a new car” makes sense, so you would want to write “Leasing a car costs more than buying a new car.”
Example: “Abigail went to the store, and in comparison to went home.” makes no sense, so you would want to write “Abigail went to the store, and then went home.”
Practice Using Then Versus ThanQuiz: www.grammarbook.com/grammar_quiz/than_vs_then_1.asp
Final Thoughts on Using Then or Than
Then versus than can be an easy mistake, so it is important to master the concept. This will allow you to keep a professional, reputable image when writing. Read about the differences, practice them, and apply them. Always remember to check your work and have someone else check it if you are unsure if you are using the correct then or than.
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