Than vs Then

Than vs then
Then I said, “He’s cuter than you!”
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Mixed up English

The English words than and then look and sound a lot alike, but they are completely different. If this distinction is harder than it should be, read this lesson and then try again.


Than is a conjunction used in comparisons:

Tom is smarter than Bill.

It’s warmer in Florida than in North Dakota.

Is she taller than you?

Yes, she is taller than I.

Grammatical note: Technically, you should use the subject pronoun after than (e.g., I), as opposed to the object pronoun (me). However, English speakers commonly use the object pronoun.

In the above examples, the comparisons are between two nouns. But comparisons can also be made with time …

We need to leave no later than 7 am.

This must be finished no later than Wednesday.

with clauses …

This is less important than you might think.

He drinks more than he should.

and with implied clauses:

I woke up earlier than usual. (… earlier than I usually wake up)

He did more than expected. (… more than we expected him to do)


Then has numerous meanings.

1. At that point in time

I wasn’t ready then.

Will you be home at noon? I’ll call you then.

2. Next, afterward

I went to the store, and then to the bank

Do your homework and then go to bed

3. In addition, also, on top of that

He told me he was leaving, and then that I owed him money

It cost $5,000, and then there’s tax too

4. In that case, therefore (often with "if")

If you want to go, then you’ll have to finish your homework.

I’m hungry!
Then you should eat.

The Bottom Line

Than is used only in comparisons, so if you’re comparing something use than. If not, then you have to use then. What could be easier than that?

Related Lessons

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Than vs then

19 Responses

  1. merline 26 February 2014 / 13:14

    Just wanted to say thanks this article was really helpful.

  2. Steve 1 May 2014 / 07:41

    Thanks! This will help the confusion. Gotta love Google. It took two seconds to find your great answer and longer to type this comment. Thanks

  3. Mauro 12 May 2014 / 05:28

    Thanks, you solved my never ending doubt 🙂

  4. Cygnus 6 July 2014 / 14:19

    The mykii deducted more fare than necessary.
    Is the usage correct?
    Thanks in advance.

  5. John spells 7 July 2014 / 11:35

    I am still a bit confused I guess. I posted something on facebook that I need help with. It is a picture that says “if you think I’m ‘too big’ for you, than I assume you don’t have the right equipment for the job anyways” is it than or then?

  6. lkl 8 July 2014 / 08:12


  7. lkl 8 July 2014 / 08:13

    No, you need “then” here – this is a lot like my last example. “If …, then ….”

  8. B 18 August 2014 / 16:49

    Funny. This is really hard for English speakers, but for ESL students it is not.

  9. Matthew 5 September 2014 / 23:08

    In the final portion titled, “the bottom line,” it says: “What could be easier than that?” Correct me (and provide logic) if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t it say: “What could be easier THEN that?” Thanks!

  10. lkl 6 September 2014 / 11:23

    If you reread the lesson, you should be able to find the logic:

    1. “Easier than” is a comparison
    2. None of the four uses of “then” apply

  11. Matthew 7 September 2014 / 17:39

    I read it through a few times. I just didn’t see the “comparison” characteristics of that final statement. I guess the mystery of what could be easier its whats be compared to. Just did not read it that way. Thanks again for your help! My papers prospered from it 🙂

  12. Darlene 17 September 2014 / 15:26

    Howdy! Will you please tell me if this is the correct use of the word than. The city became more beautiful than before. Thank you so much for your time.

  13. lkl 18 September 2014 / 06:42

    Yes, that’s correct. 🙂

  14. Kalamazoo 27 November 2014 / 12:20

    Is this correct:
    “I’ve never been more thankful THAN I am now”

  15. lkl 27 November 2014 / 13:40

    Yes, perfect. 🙂

  16. gary ray 29 December 2014 / 11:12

    is this correct? “there’s even more going on in the NYC creative underground than is mentioned here. “

  17. lkl 29 December 2014 / 12:24

    Yes, perfect.

  18. Sam 19 January 2015 / 05:44

    “””sometimes it’s better to adjust then to expect more out of ourselves”””
    Please see if the above statement is right, kindly provide a reason for then or than in the above sentence,

  19. lkl 19 January 2015 / 10:06

    It depends. If you mean first step: “sometimes it’s better to adjust” and then the second step “expect more out of ourselves,” then it’s correct.

    But if you mean “adjusting is better than expecting,” you need than, not then.

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