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Then or Than

A short explanation on the differences between than and then.

Confusing words that sound alike is not uncommon in English. A good example for that would be the misuse of the word pair then/than. They sound similar, they differ only by one letter, but they are used completely different. Let us have a look:


The word "then" indicates a time (in the past, present or future), a time marker or a sequence of events.

  • First brush your teeth then go to bed. (sequence of instructions)
  • Back then I did not have the wisdom.
  • Let us meet there and then. (time and place)
  • He listened then he spoke. (sequence of events)

Tip: If you replace the word "then" with the word "next" the sentence should still make sense.


"Than" is used in comparative sentences or statements.
When you are doing a comparison (could be size, price, number, etc.) you should use the word "than".

  • Five is bigger than three.
  • I am taller than you.
  • He is earning less than his brother.

Tip: If you replace the word "than" with the phrase "compared to" the sentence should still make sense.