The words “then” and “than” are often confused because they sound similar, especially when somebody is talking fast. However, they have different meanings and uses. “Then” is used to talk about time or sequence, as in “First, we went to the store, and then we went home.” On the other hand, “than” is used for comparison, like “She is taller than her brother.” The mix-up between these words can lead to unclear sentences and confusion, although it is easy to make that mistake, particularly when English is not your first language. It’s important to know the difference to communicate effectively and write without mistakes.

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When Do You Use ‘Then’?

The word “then” is an adverb that relates to time. It is used to indicate a sequence of events, showing what happens next. “Then” can also refer to a specific time in the past or future. It helps to clarify the order in which things occur. You can also look out for construction such as ‘back then’, ‘just then’ or ‘now and then’.

If you struggle to remember when it is necessary to use the word ‘then’, try asking yourself “When did it happen?”. The answer should be “It happened then”, and it’s clear you should use that word.

It is a very simple concept, so we are certain you’ll get it.

‘Then’ Used in a Sentence Examples

Here are some examples for you to better understand the use of the word ‘then’ in a context.

  • If you finish your homework, then you can play video games for an hour.
  • She studied all night, then aced the exam the next day. Good for him!
  • The sun set, then the stars began to twinkle in the night sky.
  • He missed the bus and then had to walk all the way to school.
  • First, we will visit the museum, then we can have lunch at the café nearby.

When Do You Use ‘Than’?

The word “than” is a conjunction used for comparison. It helps to contrast two or more things. For example, in the sentence “She is taller than her brother,” “than” is used to compare heights of the girl and her brother. The word ‘than’ is also often used with phrases like ‘rather than’, ‘more than’, and so on, so you can keep that in mind when you’re hesitant about which word to out in your sentence.

If you can’t seem to pick the proper word when writing, you can look for clues such as comparisons or special types of phrases (no sooner than, rather than etc.) to know that the word ‘than’ should be used.

‘Than’ Used in a Sentence Examples

Once again, let’s make sure you remember when to use the word ‘than’ by looking at some examples below.

  • She is more interested in science than in art, so she spends most of her time in the lab.
  • The weather was colder than expected. We had to cancel our picnic and stay indoors.
  • He is older than his sister, yet he often looks up to her for advice.
  • The cake was more delicious than it looked, surprising everyone at the party.
  • The movie was less exciting than the book and left many fans disappointed.

And if you are still unsure about whether you remember the usage cases correctly, you can do a bit of training by checking out two simple exercises. The answers are also included, so dive in!

Exercise 1

Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.

  1. She is taller ___ her brother.
  2. If you study hard, ___ you will pass the exam.
  3. The movie was more interesting ___ I expected.
  4. He arrived later ___ usual.
  5. The dessert was sweeter ___ the main course.

Answers

  1. than
  2. then
  3. than
  4. than
  5. than

Exercise 2

Select the correct phrase to complete each sentence (rather than or back then).

  1. She prefers coffee ___ tea.
  2. I remember ___ we used to play outside all day.
  3. He chose to walk ___ take the bus.
  4. ___ I was a child, I was very curious.
  5. The book is better ___ the movie.
  6. We used to go fishing ___ in the summer.
  7. They would ___ stay home ___ go out in the rain.
  8. ___ there were no smartphones, people used to communicate differently.
  9. She decided to study ___ watch TV.
  10. ___ the town was much smaller and quieter.

Answers

  1. rather than
  2. back then
  3. rather than
  4. back then
  5. rather than
  6. back then
  7. rather than
  8. back then
  9. rather than
  10. back then

FAQ

What is the difference between “than” and “then”?

“Than” is a conjunction used for comparison, as in “She is taller than her brother.” “Then” is an adverb related to time or sequence, used in sentences like “We went to the movies, and then we had dinner.”

When should I use “than” in a sentence?

Use “than” in a sentence when you are comparing two or more things. For example, “The test was more difficult than I expected.”

Can “than” and “then” be used interchangeably?

No, “than” and “then” cannot be used interchangeably as they have different meanings and uses. “Than” is used for comparison, while “then” is used to indicate time or sequence.

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