Than vs Then

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

Than is a conjunction used in comparisons:

Tom is smarter than Bill.

This is more important than you might think.

Is she taller than you?

Yes, she is taller than I.

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.

 
Then

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

13 comments for “Than vs Then

  1. merline
    26 February 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks this article was really helpful.

  2. Steve
    1 May 2014 at 7:41 am

    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 at 5:28 am

    Thanks, you solved my never ending doubt :-)

  4. Cygnus
    6 July 2014 at 2:19 pm

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

  5. John spells
    7 July 2014 at 11:35 am

    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?

    • lkl
      8 July 2014 at 8:13 am

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

  6. B
    18 August 2014 at 4:49 pm

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

  7. Matthew
    5 September 2014 at 11:08 pm

    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!

    • lkl
      6 September 2014 at 11:23 am

      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

  8. Matthew
    7 September 2014 at 5:39 pm

    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 :)

  9. Darlene
    17 September 2014 at 3:26 pm

    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.

    • lkl
      18 September 2014 at 6:42 am

      Yes, that’s correct. :-)

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