If you chose the first one then you are correct. If you chose the second one, you don’t need to beat yourself up, but you should definitely pay attention to the rest of this article.

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It can be tough to see the difference between these two words.

Just one tiny letter can sometimes make all the difference in the English language. This is certainly one instance of that and what’s more, this is an instance where the consequences matter.

You may also think that these words sound the same and so it doesn’t matter about knowing the spoken difference. This is, in fact, not true. It is possible to hear the difference when the words are pronounced incorrectly. “Then” sounds different to “than” and for that reason it could confuse people if you mix them up.

As you will see in the information to follow, the meanings and the usages of the words are very different.


“Then” is used for a variety of different situations. Of the two, this is the one that has the most uses and needs to be looked at more closely.

“Then” can be used to denote a moment in time.

For example:

It was then I knew what to do.

I wanted it to happen right there and then.

Just wait here for three hours, it’ll be ready then.

“Then” can be used to show the next step in a sequence.

For example:

I waited for two hours and then I went home.

First, she visited grandma, then she got some food and finally she went to the bank.

They went to get the money and then they bought the TV.

“Then” can be used to show additional or extra information.

For example:

The car cost a lot and then I had to buy insurance!

It will take an hour to get there and then there’s at least two hours of waiting. You’ll have to contact her first and then you need her permission.

“Then” can be used to show the result of a situation.

For example:

If I go home first, then I can pick up my clothes.

If she says that again, then he is going to go crazy.

If they make enough money, then they are moving to France.



This one is certainly the easier of the two to remember. There is only one situation when you would use the word “than”. Than is always used in comparative constructions.

Here are some examples:

My house is bigger than yours.

Her brother is older than her sister.

This will be much easier than yesterday.

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So, all you have to remember is that if you are making a comparison, you must use “than” and certainly not “then”.

Even with native speakers, it is very common to see the two mixed up due to spelling mistakes when writing under pressure. For that reason, be sure to check your work when you finish writing. Of course, this is a practice you should be carrying out whenever you write, no matter the language.

On the other side of that, don’t be too harsh on yourself.

Small mistakes happen and just need to be corrected over time. The words look similar and for that reason you will notice mix ups now and again. This is the same for native speakers and that shows that it just takes practice to get the hang of any concept such as this.