Grammar Tip: Than Vs. Then

At many places, I saw such sentence construction as in:

He has always been smarter then me.
I wanted it to be more black then red.
The reticulated python is slightly longer then the Anaconda.


At the place of ‘then’ in all these sentences, it should be ‘than’. Always, the comparative form uses ‘than’ not ‘then’. I thought I should address this as a separate post so that people may notice it and change.

The Uses of Then

The word then is used to refer to any point of time in the past or the future:
Last year we got married. Then it was easy to find a home.
Next year my friend gets married. Then I should be there as his best man.


Other meanings of then are these:

  • After something: We have to find Franky first, then John.
  • Therefore/Thus: You said you have do it. Then why don’t you hurry?
  • By the time that: By then you will have reached your home.
  • But on the other hand: She was here, but then she can’t be there too.

The Uses of Than

Than comes mainly in comparative forms, in which one object or process is compared to another:

I found Chemistry harder and more fascinating than Physics.
Jack likes Jill more than he does her cousin Shrill.


Than is also used in the construction No sooner…Than as in these sentences:
He had no sooner come home than she called.
No sooner had Tom became popular than he married.


Using ‘no sooner…when’ or ‘hardly…than’ is considered wrong:

Wrong: No sooner had she knocked when he opened.
Wrong: Hardly had he knocked than she opened.

Conclusion

I hope you people will read other grammar snippets here and make necessary changes to your writing.

Recommended Grammar Books From Amazon:


Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

2 Opinions:

  1. Thank You for the info. Many people on the internet use the word "then" instead of "than". So "He has always been smarter then me" doesn't make any sense right?. Why do some people use the word "then"?. I'm an Asian, so sometimes I get confused because some foreigners who (should)have good English knowledge do the same mistake.

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  2. Sinaru, do you believe that everything that goes around on the Internet is correct? Nope! Only less than 1 per cent is truth here. Less than 1 per cent is correct in terms of grammar or anything at that matter. In all comparisons, it should be 'than' not 'then'. You will continue to see wrong English in many places. That doesn't mean you should follow any of them. And as you say, English speakers also make mistakes. Hell, a lot of mistakes!

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