Surprisingly these two words are very easy to distinguish between, yet many writers get them mixed up. So when should than be used and when should then be used? Let’s look at some examples below.
Than is used to make a comparison between things, usually after a comparative adjective or adverb, to introduce a second clause or element that is not equal.
• John is shorter than Jenny.
• His singing was louder than hers.
• The kidney operation was more urgent than the facelift.
Then is used to differentiate time, usually to indicate when something occurs in a particular timeframe or sequence.
• Finish your dinner and then brush your teeth.
• I’ll jog to the bench and then I’ll sprint to the fence.
• The invoice was for $100.00, but then there was tax added as well.
A good mnemonic to use could be:
Than = a for comparing an apple to an orange.
Then = e for an event in time.
Remember, than is only used to make a comparison. So if you are comparing something, use than, and if you are not comparing something, use then. I told you it was easy!
Kristy Taylor is a syndicated freelance journalist with articles and short stories strewn across all forms of media. She has written and published numerous books, and is the executive editor of KT Publishing, which encompasses several web sites. For free listings of short story competitions visit http://www.shortstorycompetitions.com
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