Than vs Then – What is the Difference?

Than vs Then

Than vs Then

The English language can be complicated and complex, inundated with several words that look the same, and even more that sound the same. Given this, it’s easy to get the different versions of words confused and not know which one is appropriate to use at which time. One of the most common of these pairs is than and then.

Definition and Example

Than is a conjunction word used mainly in making comparisons, and is used typically when you are talking about two separate things and comparing them to each other.

Examples of than:
Conjunction: “Running is harder than walking.”

Then can take on several different parts of speech depending on when it is used. It can act as an adverb, which is used to denote time or denote a point in time, or can be used to denote time in an if/then construct. Then can also be used as a noun, where it refers to a specific time or specific time period. In addition, it can be used as an adjective, where it describes a certain time.

Examples of then:
Adverb: “First we are going to the park, and then we are going swimming.”
Noun: “Since then, he’s been more cautious.”
Adjective: The then secretary of state.”

Popular Phrases and When to Use

Choose to use then when you are denoting a time, or talking about what once was or what is going to be.

“I am going to work then.”
“We went to the park and then we went swimming.”
“First you mix the ingredients, and then you bake it in the oven.”
“If it rains, then it is cancelled.”

All of these popular phrase structures use then as the word choice, and all are related to time.

Choose to use than when you are comparing objects, elements or people.

“He is stronger than she is.”
“That car is nicer than your car.”
“Ice cream is better than frozen yogurt.”

Note that in each of these instances, there are two things that are being compared against each other.

Now that you’ve seen some examples of the difference between than vs then, test your grammar knowledge by playing a few Grammar Quizzes on Sporcle.