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Is It Then Or Than

Published by at February 9th, 2024 , Revised On February 28, 2024

Language is a fascinating and intricate system of communication, and there are some words that can trip professional writers at times. One common source of confusing words in English is the difference between “than” and “then.” These two words may sound similar, but they serve distinct purposes in the language. 

Let’s explore them in detail. 

Understanding “Than”

“Than” is a conjunction used to make comparisons between two or more things. It is often employed when expressing preferences, differences, or similarities. Let’s see some examples to understand better how “than” works:

Comparison Of Quantity

  • She has more books than he does.
  • The marathon is longer than the 5K race.

In these examples, “than” is used to highlight a difference in quantity or length between two things. It signifies a comparative relationship, indicating that one item surpasses or falls short of another.

Expressing Preferences

  • I would rather go to the beach than the mountains.
  • He likes tea more than coffee.

Here, “than” is used to convey a preference or choice between two options. It indicates a selection based on personal liking or inclination.

Comparing Actions

  • She would rather walk than drive.
  • I would rather learn than memorise.

In these instances, “than” is used to compare actions or activities, showcasing a preference for one over the other.

Common Mistakes With “Than”

Despite its straightforward usage, there are common mistakes associated with “than” that can trip up even proficient English speakers. One such error is the confusion between “than” and “then.”

Understanding “Then”

“Then,” on the other hand, is an adverb or an adjective used to indicate time, sequence, or consequence. It is crucial to differentiate between the two, as misusing “then” instead of “than” can alter the intended meaning of a sentence. Let’s explore the various contexts in which “then” is correctly employed:

Time Sequence

  • First, we will prepare the ingredients; then, we will start cooking.
  • She finished her homework, and then she went to bed.

In these examples, “then” is used to denote a sequence of events. It helps in conveying the chronological order in which actions occur.


  • If it rains, then the outdoor event will be cancelled.
  • Complete the assignment first; then, you can go out.

Here, “then” is used to express a consequence or a result that follows a particular condition or action.

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Common Mistakes With “Then”

Confusing “then” with “than” is a prevalent mistake, and it often leads to grammatically incorrect sentences. Let’s highlight some common errors and how to avoid them:

Incorrect Usage

  • I would rather have pizza for dinner, then sushi.
  • He is taller then his brother.

Corrected Usage

  • I would rather have pizza for dinner than sushi.
  • He is taller than his brother.

Some More Examples

Examples to Illustrate the Difference:

    • Incorrect: He is taller then me. (Makes no sense)
    • Correct: He is taller than me. (Comparison)
    • Incorrect: I went to the store, than I cooked dinner. (Makes no sense)
    • Correct: I went to the store, then I cooked dinner. (Sequence)
    • Incorrect: I would rather have coffee then tea. (Makes no sense)
    • Correct: I would rather have coffee than tea. (Comparison)
    • Incorrect: Back than, we used to write letters. (Makes no sense)
    • Correct: Back then, we used to write letters. (Time)

Tips For Remembering The Difference Between Than And Then

To avoid falling into the trap of interchanging “than” and “then,” consider the following tips:

Focus On Purpose

  • If you are making a comparison, use “than.”
  • If you are indicating time, sequence, or consequence, use “then.”

Think Of “Than” As A Comparator

Use “than” when you are comparing things or expressing preferences.

Visualise The Meaning

Picture the meaning of your sentence—does it involve a comparison or a sequence?

Frequently Asked Questions

“Then” is an adverb or adjective indicating time or sequence, while “than” is a conjunction used in comparisons. Remember, “then” relates to timing or consequences (e.g., “back then”), while “than” signifies comparison (e.g., “taller than”). Understanding this distinction is crucial for grammatical accuracy in writing and speech.

Use “then” to denote time sequence or consequence. It indicates the order of events (e.g., “first, then, finally”) or the result following a condition (e.g., “if it rains, then the event is canceled”). “Then” helps convey chronological order or logical progression in both written and spoken language.

“Sarah is taller than her sister, emphasising a height comparison.” “First, prepare the ingredients; then, start cooking, highlighting a sequence of actions.” In the first sentence, “than” is used for comparison. In the second sentence, “then” indicates the order of events, demonstrating the chronological sequence.

It is “rather than.” Use “rather than” when expressing a preference or choice between two options. For example, “I prefer tea rather than coffee.” Avoid confusion with “then,” which indicates time, sequence, or consequence, as in “First prepare the ingredients, then start cooking.”

In grammar, “then” functions as an adverb or adjective to indicate time, sequence, or consequence. It is used to show the order of events or actions (e.g., “First, prepare the ingredients; then, start cooking”) and to express a result following a condition (e.g., “If it rains, then the event will be canceled”).

The correct phrase is “more than happy.” Use “more than” to convey a greater degree of happiness or satisfaction. For example, “I am more than happy to help you.” Avoid using “more then happy” as it would be grammatically incorrect and may lead to confusion between “than” and “then.”

The correct phrase is “later than.” Use “than” to compare the timing of events or actions. For example, “I will arrive later than expected.” Avoid using “later then,” as it is grammatically incorrect. The distinction between “than” and “then” is crucial for accurate communication in English.

An example of “rather than” is: “I prefer to exercise in the morning rather than the evening.” In this sentence, “rather than” introduces a preference or choice, emphasising the selection of one option over another. It is commonly used to express alternatives or comparisons in various contexts.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.