“Then” vs. “Than”-How are they different?

Are you one of those people who would rather prefer their writing to be corrected then being ignorant of the confusion caused by some English words? Well, we are too. This is the reason why we will not ignore the then used incorrectly in the first sentence. The correct word choice should have been than.

However, we do realize that not all English speakers miss such errors as a result of ignorance. In fact, most of them just do not know these words well enough to use them correctly!

And that’s what we are here for! To help you master some of the commonly used but frequently confused English words. Since we have already shed some light on then and than, let us untwine these words further in today’s post.

Then and than are two words that throw off even the most confident English-speakers into puzzlement. Given the similarity in their spellings and pronunciations, such confusion is understandable. But, using these words correctly isn’t as tricky a business as it seems! Reason being their completely different meanings. Let us have a look.

When is then used?

Then, as an adverb, is generally used as a reference of time to indicate that something happened after something. It defines the chronology of events.

I threw a final glance at the clock and then went to sleep.

Then can also be used to express ‘at that time’.

We had already made up our minds then.

Sometimes then is also used in a ‘if… then’ construction where a condition is stated for doing a particular action.

If the weather does not clear out, then I might have to take a cab home.

In some sentences, then is used as an adjective to describe a person or a thing holding a former position.

The proposal was not accepted by then Vice-President of the company.

When is than used?

Than is a conjunction, like ‘and’ and ‘but’, which is used to compare two objects or phrases in a sentence.

She is brighter than any other student in her class.

Than is also a part of some popular phrases that often leave people wondering whether to use then or than. Examples of such phrases include more than, less than, rather than, other than etc.

The amount of funds Jack has is more than what he needs.

I get to sleep for less than 6 hours a day.

Let us start with the discussion, rather than waiting for Sam to join the meeting.

No one attended the party other than Betty and Smith.

Pro-tips to remember the difference

Now that we know that even though then and than have similar spellings and pronunciations, they have very distinct meanings. This distinction should be remembered to use these words correctly.

  1. If you are talking about a particular time, use then.
  2. When you are describing a comparison, use than.

If you think that we helped you improve your understanding of these two confusing words than what you earlier had, then do let us know in the comments!

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