Then vs. Than: Grammar and Usage Guide
The Difference Between "Then" and "Than"
"Then" and "than" are often confused in the English language. While they sound and look alike, the two words have two very different meanings.
Than is used for comparisons.
Then is used to describe time or a logical consequence.
For a more detailed explanation, see the definitions below.
Definition of "Than"
1. A conjunction used to introduce the second element of an unequal comparison.
- "She had better grammar than I."
2. Used in expressions introducing an exception or contrast.
- "He claims not to own anything other than his home."
Special Usage Rules
English wouldn't be the amazing and frustrating language it is if there weren't at least some exceptions or variations to its rules. In the case of "than," this exception comes in the idiomatic expression "No sooner . . . than," which marks two things happening at the same time.
- "No sooner had the doctor entered the room than my heart began to race."
Rephrased, the sentence reads:
- "When the doctor entered the room, my heart began to race."
Definition of "Then"
"Then" can be used to mark a number of different relationships.
Relations of Time
1. At that time–used to indicate what happens next.
- "First I will get a haircut, then I will get a manicure."
2. Following after–used to indicate position or order in a sequence.
- "First comes love, then comes marriage."
3. In addition.
- "Then there's the rent to worry about."
Relations of Logic
1. As a consequence; therefore (often paired with "if").
- "If you study hard in high school, then you can you can get into a good college."
2. In that case.
- "If you want my money, then take it."
3. Used after "but" to qualify or balance a preceding statement.
- "He was a star, but then he always worked so hard."
Using "Then" and "Than" in the Same Sentence
"The Lakers have always been better than most teams in the league, but then, I'm a bit biased."