Many people get tripped up on the pair of words then and than. Despite their similar spellings and pronunciations, they function quite differently as linguistic workhorses.
Dictionaries define then as a word that references time or order. You can find it in phrases like subsequently, since then, and until then. It follows adverbs and adjectives such as less than, further than, and taller than.
Then and more than are two homophones—words that sound the same but have different meanings. Misusing either word can confuse your readers and cause grammatical errors. Fortunately, there are easy ways to remember the difference between them.
The most common use of then is as an adverb, indicating when something happened. It can also be used in a ‘if… then’ construction to show a sequence of events.
However, “then” can also be used as a conjunction, like ‘and’ and ‘but’, to compare two unequal items or people. To make sure you use this word correctly, always keep in mind that it is a comparison word and not a time word. Then can also be a replacement for the word “more” when talking about quantities. For example, “She is more than a good student.” “She is even better than her brother.” “They are much more powerful than the local authorities.” “They are stronger than any other team.” ‘They are also faster than any other player in the league.” [Source: BBC]
The words then and than are similar, both containing the letters e and a. However, they are distinctly different in meaning and usage. Then is generally used as an adverb, describing a time or a sequence of events. It is also often combined with other adverbs and adjectives to make comparisons or denote differences.
For instance, it’s common to hear phrases such as “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and “better late than never.” These examples illustrate how the word than is used to make comparisons.
Non-native English speakers are particularly prone to mixing up these two words, especially when it comes to making comparisons that involve time. Misusing these words can be a serious grammatical faux pas and is one of the main reasons for manuscript rejection. It’s important for authors to know when to use then and when to use than. Otherwise, your writing may be confusing or ambiguous. That could have a negative impact on your reader’s understanding of your research and its implications.
Many people, even native English speakers, confuse the spelling of then and than. Both words sound similar and are used in the same context, but they have different meanings. Use this guide to learn the differences between then and than so that you can avoid tripping up on grammar police mistakes when writing.
The word then is an adverb, noun, or adjective that indicates time and can be followed by another noun or adjective to indicate consequence. It can also be used to form comparisons between unequal items, places, or persons.
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Then and than are two very similar words, and it can be difficult to tell them apart. The easiest way to remember the difference is by noticing that then has an e and than has an a. Also, you can remember that then is used for time and than is usually associated with comparisons.
Than is a common part of many idioms, including “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and “better late than never.” Learning how to use these idioms can help you improve your written communication skills. You can test your knowledge of these idioms by filling in the blanks with either than or then.