Battle of the Words: Then versus Than


Whenever you’re trying to decide between using Then and Than, keep these tips in mind.

→The most important thing to remember is that these words really share no meaning at all. They look similar (just one letter difference), but they do not have similar meanings.

→The word Then always indicates time in some way. It will often refer to a time transition, which basically means that something happened next. Use it like this: “I ate pizza for dinner, and then I got indigestion” or “We went out to dinner. Then, we went to a movie.”

→Then can also indicate that something happened in the past: “My mother was born in the 1960s. Back then, online courses didn’t exist.”

→Than is used to compare. It helps describe if something is bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, etc. Use it like this: “My new car was more expensive than yours” or “I like chocolate ice cream more than vanilla.”

→Final tip: Just because you might pronounce these words similarly, this does not mean the words are interchangeable in writing.

grammarx If you can’t decide which word to pick, English teachers like to use these simple tips:

  1. Then contains the letter E (so does the word time).
  2. Than has the letter A, which also occurs in compare.

Need a higher dose of word choice tips? Check out these other word battles:

Affect versus Effect

You’re versus Your

There versus Their (and They’re)


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