Than vs Then | What’s the Difference?

Alison Chaplin

Words that sound similar can be confusing, like “than” and “then.” Even though they sound alike, they mean different things. In this article, we’ll make it simple to understand the difference between “than vs then” by looking at how they’re used and giving examples.

What is Than?

Let’s start with “than,” a conjunction commonly used for making comparisons. When you’re comparing two things, “than” helps express the difference between them. Here’s a breakdown of its common uses:

ComparisonExample
Comparative AdjectivesShe is taller than her brother.
Comparative AdverbsHe runs faster than I do.
Quantitative ComparisonsI would rather have a few loyal friends than many acquaintances.

“Than” acts as a connector, signaling the contrast between the things being compared. Remember, “than” is specifically used for comparisons.

What is Then?

Moving on to “then,” this word plays various roles, mainly as an adverb or adjective. Its meanings depend on the context, often indicating a sequence of events, a point in time, or a logical consequence.

Let’s look at the different applications of “then”:

Sequence of EventsExample
TimeI’ll meet you at the park, and then we can go for a coffee.
Logical ConsequenceIf you study diligently, then you will perform well in the exam.
Next in OrderFirst, complete the assignment, and then submit it to the professor.

As seen in the examples, “then” is used to show time, consequences, or the order of events. Recognizing the context is crucial to using “then” correctly.

Examples:

Comparison with “Than”:

  • Incorrect: She is smarter then her sister.
  • Correct: She is smarter than her sister.

Sequence of Events with “Then”:

  • Incorrect: I’ll have dinner, than I’ll go for a walk.
  • Correct: I’ll have dinner, then I’ll go for a walk.

Quantitative Comparison with “Than”:

  • Incorrect: I prefer having many books then watching TV.
  • Correct: I prefer having many books than watching TV.

What are the Grammatical Aspects?

Understanding the usage of “than” and “then” in different parts of speech is crucial for clear communication. Let’s break down how these two words function within various contexts:

Than:

Conjunction (Comparative): The most common use of “than” is as a conjunction in comparative statements. It connects two elements, highlighting a difference in degree, quality, or quantity.

  • Example: She is smarter than her classmates.

Preposition (Introducing a Choice): In some cases, “than” can function as a preposition when introducing alternatives or choices.

  • Example: I would rather walk than drive.

Then:

Adverb (Time or Sequence): “Then” primarily functions as an adverb, indicating a point in time, a sequence of events, or a consequence.

  • Example: Finish your homework, and then you can go outside.

Adjective (Denoting a Specific Time): Occasionally, “then” can function as an adjective, specifying a particular time in the past.

  • Example: Back then, we used to play in the park every evening.

Understanding the parts of speech in which “than” and “then” operate helps in using them appropriately in sentences. “Than” is primarily a conjunction or preposition used for comparisons, while “then” serves as an adverb or adjective, emphasizing time, sequence, or a specific point in the past.

What are the Common Mistakes to Avoid?

  • Using “then” in a comparative context:
    Incorrect: She is taller then her brother.
    Correct: She is taller than her brother.
  • Using “than” to denote a sequence:
    Incorrect: Finish homework, than go to bed.
    Correct: Finish homework, then go to bed.

What is the Difference between “Than vs Then”?

“Than” is used for comparisons, signaling the contrast between two things. On the other hand, “then” serves various roles, indicating time, consequences, or the order of events. Understanding than vs then distinctions is crucial for clear communication in writing and speaking.

Pro Tip: Use “than” when comparing things, like ‘taller than.’ It’s got “than” right there!
For “then,” think about time or order, like ‘first, then next.’ Remember the “e” and “n,” just like “event” and “next.” Easy peasy!

Conclusion:

Understanding the difference between “than vs then” is crucial for clear communication. “Than” is for comparisons, while “then” has various uses, including indicating time, consequences, or the order of events. Keep these differences in mind, refer to the tables, and let your command of these homophones enhance your writing and speaking skills.