Then vs. Than: How to Use Than vs. Then Correctly

Then vs. than, how to choose the right word? The English language is full of words that look and sound really alike but actually have very different meanings. The words “then” and “than” are only one example: even though they differ by a single letter, they can’t be used to replace each other in a sentence. Many people confuse than vs. then but the difference between the two is pretty straightforward.

Then vs. Than

  • THEN is an adverb that is used to situate events in time, and an adjective that means, “being so at the time”.
  • THAN is a conjunction that is used when we want to compare something to something else.


  • I’ll give you a key then you’re free to come and go as you please.
  • It is easier to get money than to keep it.

If you are unsure about which word to use, address these general rules for using then vs. than.

When to Use Then

Use THEN when:

1) You want an adverb that means “at that time”, e.g. I wasn’t answering the phone because I was on vacation then.

2) You want an adverb that means “afterward”, e.g. We packed our bags and then went to the airport.

3) You want an adverb that means “in that case”, e.g. If the weather is good, then we will go for a walk.

4) You want an adjective that means “being so at the time”, e.g. My then best friend was always late.

When to Use Than

Use THAN when:

1) You are comparing two objects, e.g. His computer is more expensive than mine.

Tips for Using Than or Then

The “Then vs. Than” dilemma might be a challenging one but there are tricks that will help you. If you can replace the word with an adverb that indicated time, such as “afterward” or “subsequently”, you need to use “then”. If you can use “in that case” instead of the word in question, the correct option also is “then”. If you are making a comparison between two people, objects, or things, “than” is the word that you are looking for.

Let’s see an example: “John did his homework and then/ than went to the cinema”. See if you can rewrite the sentence: “John did his homework and afterward went to the cinema”. It sounds correct, so you need to use “then”.

Another example will be, “My dress is prettier then/ than Mary’s”. Here you are comparing your dress to Mary’s dress; therefore, the correct word will be “than”.

What is the word to use when you say, “If my car breaks down, then/ than I will arrive late”? In this sentence, you can replace the word in question with “in that case”. Or, if you change the structure of the sentence, you can say, “In case my car breaks down, I will arrive late”. Therefore, “then” is the word you should use.

Then vs. Than Examples

  • She started to sing, and then the others chimed in.
  • If you don’t want fish for dinner, then you’ll just have to go without!
  • Boil plenty of salted water, then add the spaghetti.
  • Call again next week. They should have reached a decision by then.
  • A good neighbour is better than a brother in the next village.
  • “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” (George Herbert)
  • He worked harder than the others.
  • This problem is more difficult than that one.

Difference between Than vs. Then | Infographic

Then or Than | What’s the Difference between Then vs. Than?

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Linda Zemel
Linda Zemel
1 year ago

I’ll give you a key. Then you will be free….
I’ll give a key; then you will be free…

This could be rephrased as “You would have always been free except that we made a terrible mistake and then another and another…and we gave veiled threats when you told us so. Here is the key and a receipt for the electronic transfer of three million tax-free dollars to you. We are making a public announcement so everyone will know we goofed and you were right!”

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