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Then vs. Than: Grammar and Usage Guide
The Lakers have always been better than most teams in the league, but then, I'm a bit biased.
Grammar Mistake: Then and Than
"Then" and "than" are often confused in the English language. While they sound and look alike, the two words have very different meanings.
Common Uses of Then and Than
Than: a comparison
Then: a description of time or logical consequence
For a more detailed explanation, see the definitions below.
A conjunction used to introduce the second element of an unequal comparison: She had better grammar than I.
Special Usage Rules
English wouldn't be the amazing and frustrating language it is if there weren't at least some exceptions or variations to its rules. In the case of "than," this exception comes in the idiomatic expression "No sooner . . . than," which marks two things happening at the same time.
Example: No sooner had the doctor entered the room than my heart began to race.
Rephrased, the sentence reads: When the doctor entered the room, my heart began to race.
"Then" can be used to mark a number of different relationships.
Relations of Time
1. At that time - used to indicate what happens next:
- Example: First I will get a haircut, then I will get a manicure.
2. Following after - used to indicate position or order in a sequence:
- Example: First comes love, then comes marriage.
3. In addition:
- Example: Then there's the rent to worry about.
Relations of Logic
1. As a consequence; therefore (often paired with "if"):
- Example: If you study hard in high school, then you can you can get into a good college.
2. In that case:
- Example: If you want my money, take it then.
3. Used after "but" to qualify or balance a preceding statement:
- Example: He was a star, but then he always worked so hard.