Lawless English

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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