Difference Between Then and Than

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The basic difference between then and than is, the term “then” has numerous uses regarding the time element. It is most often used as an adverb, though it can also be used as an adjective or noun in certain situations. For Example: once you apologize, only then will you be allowed to enter. A conjunction and a preposition usually indicate a comparison, as in the case of than. Example: Billy preferred movie than novel. 

Similar-sounding terms in the English language frequently lead to misunderstandings; “than” and “then” are no different. Despite sounding identical, these two words have different purposes and meanings. It is essential to know the difference between “than” and “then” in order to communicate effectively and prevent grammatical mistakes. The differences between these two terms will be discussed in this article, along with a detailed explanation of their usage and context.

Let’s Explore: Then

The adverb “then” designates a particular time in the past, present, or future, as well as a series of occurrences. It can also be used to denote an outcome or impact.

Usage of Then

  • Used when referring to a sequence of events.
  • Used when indicating a consequence or result.
  • Used to mean “therefore” or “in that case”.
  • Indicate a time in the past.

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Commonly Used “Then” Phrases

Here are a few examples of when then is used in our day to day phrases:

  1. Every now and then: Not very often, but is used sometimes
  2. And then some: Occurred more than expected
  3. Then again: However.
  4. Just then: Suddenly
  5. Until then: Until the event (we were speaking of) occurs

Examples of Then

A few examples of then are as follows:

  • He was hungry, and then he ate a sandwich.
  • She was busy with work back then.
  • My cousin told me, “If we are baking together, then only we can take photographs.”
  • Bagels were cheaper back then.
  • My then classmate Ankita moved out and we have not met since that time.

Let’s Explore: Than

The conjunction “than” is used to express preference or to compare two items. It is often used in comparison expressions such as “less than” or “more than.”

Usage of Than

  • Comparing two things or indicating a preference.
  • It means “except” in phrases like “other than” or “rather than”.
  • Indicate difference in quantity
  • Indicate difference in degree
  • Indicate difference in quality

Commonly Used “Than” Phrases

Than, one of the most common English words and has a very specific meaning, but is often confused with it. Below are some of the commonly used phrases where the term “than” is used.

  1. Blood is thicker than water: Family is always important.
  2. Better late than never: It’s important to speak.
  3. It’s better to give than to receive: Generosity is always rewarded.
  4. The pen is mightier than the sword: Words are more impactful than fighting.
  5. Truth is stranger than fiction: Real events can be more bizarre than anything else.
  6. Better you than me: It is better that you deal with this situation. I will stay out of it.

Examples of Than

A few of the daily life examples are listed below:

  • She is taller than his brother.
  • Europe is further away than Paris.
  • Cucumbers are healthier than burgers.
  • This new school had more students than the older one.
  • I prefer dark chocolate more than white chocolate.

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Difference between Then and Than

In grammar, it is very important to understand the difference between then and than, as these two are the most commonly used grammatical terms. They are often confused because they have the same pronunciation but have completely different roles to play. Let’s check the differences below:

Used while comparingUsed with time or sequence
Preposition or conjunctionAdverb or adjective
Used while comparing differencesUsed when expressing consequence or result
Used with comparative formsUsed with future or past events
Indicates a choice or preferenceIndicates an order or subsequent action
Often used with comparative adjectivesOften used with conditional or cause-and-effect statements
Followed by nouns, pronouns, or gerundsFollowed by verbs or phrases
Frequently used in making judgmentsFrequently used in narratives or instructions
Commonly used with comparisons of inequalityCommonly used with chronological or logical sequences

Similarity between Thenand Than

Despite having different purposes and meanings, “than” and “then” share a few similarities. A few similarities between “than” and “then” are:

  • Both terms have the same pronunciation and are monosyllabic.
  • Both words have historical linguistic ties and are Old English in origin.
  • They are essential components of the grammar language.
  • Both terms are crucial for building sentences and expressing ideas.
  • The terms “than” and “then” are commonly found in a variety of situations and genres.
  • Misuse of any term can result in grammatical mistakes and misunderstandings.

Understanding the differences between the two terms and using them appropriately are essential for proficient English conversation.


Is it possible to use “than” and “then” interchangeably?

No, “than” and “then” have different meanings and purposes; mixing them up can cause misunderstandings and improper grammar.

Can you use “then” as a conjunction?

Yes, “then” can serve as a conjunction to indicate a cause-and-effect link between two phrases or clauses.

Can you give an example of than?

Sure, a few examples of than are:
This place had more people than the last place we visited.
He prefers business more than any job.

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