When learning the English language, it’s easy to confuse certain words, especially when they look or sound similar. One such pair of words is ‘then’ and ‘than’. Both play significant roles in the English language, but they have distinct uses and meanings. Here are some examples to help clarify when to use ‘then’ vs ‘than’.
‘Then’ primarily refers to a time or sequence of events, or it can be used to indicate a result or consequence. ‘Than’ is a conjunction used in comparisons. Let’s delve into the detailed usage and examples of both these words.
Indicating time or sequence:
The word ‘then’ is often used when talking about time or the order in which events occur. It means ‘at that time’ or ‘next in order of time’.
“First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, mix the ingredients together.”
“She was a student then.”
Indicating a consequence or result:
‘Then’ can also be used to demonstrate cause and effect.
“If you don’t study for the test, then you won’t do well.”
Additionally, ‘then’ expresses an additional point or an alternative suggestion.
“The restaurant is closed. Let’s go to the café then.”
‘Than’ is a conjunction primarily used for making comparisons. It contrasts things in terms of size, quantity, quality, degree, and so on.
“He is taller than I am.”
“I would rather read a book than watch television.”
With certain adjectives and adverbs
Some adjectives and adverbs such as ‘more’, ‘less’, ‘better’, ‘worse’, ‘sooner’, and ‘later’ require ‘than’ when making a comparison.
“She runs faster than me.”
“It’s more than I expected.”
One easy way to remember the difference is to associate ‘then’ with ‘when’ (both involve time or sequence) and ‘than’ with ‘compare’ (as it is used in comparisons).
Misusing ‘then’ and ‘than’ is a common mistake even among native speakers. However, using these words correctly is crucial for clear and accurate communication. Although they may sound similar, swapping one for the other can significantly alter the meaning of your sentence. This article should be a guide to help you use then vs than appropriately and confidently.