Then Versus Than

Confused sign

Then Versus Than

When trying to decide whether to use “then” or “than” does it leave you as confused as this sign? I hope we can clear up the differences between “then” and “than” with this quick tip.

THEN: According to the dictionary here is the definition:

As an adverb:

  • A point in time – For example: Back THEN clothing styles were very modest.
  • Immediately or soon after – For example: Sandra stopped screaming, THEN started again.
  • Next in the order of time – For example: Joe went to the store THEN to dinner.
  • At the same time – For example: At first, her eyes looked blue, THEN green.
  • Next in order of place – For example: The winners of the Golden Goose writer competition were: 1st place – Joe, 2nd place Sue, THEN 3rd place Grady.

As an adjective:

  • being; being such; existing or being at the time indicated – For example: The THEN president of ACFW.

As a noun:

  • At a certain point of time – For example: Andrew hasn’t been back to Sue’s house since THEN.


THAN: According to the dictionary here is the definition:

A conjunction:

  • Introduces a second member of unequal comparison. For example: Judith is a better writer THAN I am.
  • Introduces an alternative or denote a difference in kind, place, style, etc. – For example: Texas has less restrictive gun laws THAN California
  • Introduces the rejected choice in expressions of preference – For example: I would rather write THAN watch television.
  • Except – For example: I had no other choice THAN to withdraw from the writing competition.
  • When –

To drill things down to the quick tip, then is used to show time. Next, after, in a series, etc., and than is used to compare. I hope this not-so-quick tip helps clarify whether to use THEN or THAN.

About mdyer

Marcy G. Dyer is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age. For information on her current and upcoming novels, please visit: Marcy is an alumni of the Christian Writer’s Guild and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She hosts a small critique group for ACFW and is involved in two other critique groups. As followers of Jesus Christ, Marcy and her family are active members of Crossroads Fellowship in Odessa, Texas.
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