Then or Than: It’s Time for a Comparison

Tragically, these two simple words are commonly misused, but while they are spelled similarly, they have COMPLETELY different meanings and uses. We’ll start with the definitions.


Than (conjunction): used in expressions introducing an exception or contrast;

also (preposition): introducing the second element in a comparison.

Then (adverb): at that time; at the time in question; afterward.


So, then is a word that relates to time, while than is used for comparisons.

Tom runs faster than Jim.

Tom runs; then, Jim runs.


Now, this gets a little confusing when the comparison relates to time, such as:

No sooner had Tom run past us than Jim passed us.


In this case, than is comparing the point in time at which both guys ran past us. Of course, you could also rephrase it to state:

Tom ran past us. Then, Jim passed us.


And here’s both than and then used in a sentence:



Tell me what you thought about this blog! Was it helpful? What are some grammar conundrums you contend with?

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