than vs then rule

The difference between than vs then

Than vs Then is a battle many people face. It is easy to mix them up in writing and speech. They look alike and have three similar letters. When typing, it is possible to mix them up and your spell checker will not spot the error. For example, as I am writing this, my spell checker is suggesting I change the ‘Than’ I used as the first word of the paragraph to ‘Then’.


They do not sound alike so errors arising from usage in speech are a bigger problem. If you have this problem, this than vs then worksheet is for you. The difference between than and then, like connotation and denotation, arises from its meanings. These word twins look alike on paper but sound different in speech.

The first step to knowing the difference between both words is to know their definitions.

So, what are the differences?

Than and Then are two separate words, they do not share the same meaning.

There are several instances we use the word ‘Than’. We use it for comparison. For example, she is fatter than her sister.

As conjunction – He is older than I am.

– She is smarter than us.

As a preposition – She is bigger than you.

– He is faster than me.

‘Then’ has several meanings. It indicates action (what is next) and time.

As an action – He grabbed the bag, then ran away.

– She dropped the kids at school, then drove to work.

To show time – Ever since then, she no longer walks alone at night.

– Until then, do not stop trying.

As an adverb – I lived in Alaska then.

– I worked with Frisco Farms then.

As an adjective – The then President of my country. 

As a consequence – If John and Jane are siblings, then they cannot marry.

Than vs Then Rule

It is embarrassing when you make simple grammatical errors. Having an editor or friend point out to you, ‘Hey, it’s not than, it’s then” is an embarrassing moment.

These two four-letter words look alike but do not have the same meaning. Using than instead of then, then instead of than distorts the meaning of what you are saying or writing.

Then functions in sentences as an adverb while than functions as conjunction. Can you see where the confusion is coming from? They are both connecting words.

The than vs then rule is all about knowing when to use them. We use the word ‘than’ when we want to compare things or persons. It is a comparison word. We use the word ‘then’ when we want to show time.

Than – For comparing things or people.

Then – For indicating time.

Keeping these basic definitions at the back of your mind is key to ending the misuse of the words.

There is no better way to learn the difference between the two words than to do than vs then practices. Practice! And more practice is the key to all learning.

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