'Other Than' or 'Other Then': Which is Correct Grammar?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on August 24, 2022

A question we often get asked is whether or not it’s correct to say ‘other than’ or ‘other then.’ That’s because the two sound very similar, and are almost identical in spelling.

In this article, we’ll help you discern between the two so you’ll know which one to choose next time you need to use it.

Is it ever correct to say ‘other then’? The answer is ‘no’; it is never right to say that. You’ll never find the word ‘other’ and ‘then’ together in the same clause.

Usage of ‘Other Than’ or ‘Other Then’

How should you use the term? What does it mean? And what are its different uses? Questions we are about to answer in the upcoming section.

What Does “Other Than” Mean?

‘Other than’ is a grammatically correct clause. It can take on the role of a conjunction or a preposition. It usually carries the same meaning as ‘with the exception of’ or ‘but.’

As a Conjunction

Conjunctions are words that connect two clauses or sentences. Here are some of the most common clauses:

  • And
  • But
  • Yet
  • Nor
  • So
  • Or

See how in the following sentence, the conjunctions connect each part of the sentence, and without them, the sentence wouldn’t make sense:

I'm not a fan of windsurfing, yet I do appreciate kitesurfing.

‘Other than’ can be used as a conjunction. When that’s the case, it takes on the meaning of ‘except’ or ‘but.’ This means you can use ‘other than’ in the same contexts as you would those two words. For example:

  • She had no options other than to go home.
  • There’s nothing you can do other than tell him how you feel.

You can see how in both these sentences, ‘other than’ could easily be replaced by ‘except’ or ‘but.’

As a Preposition

It can be easy to get confused as to which is the correct preposition to use in English. For example, a question we often see people ask is whether to use ‘interested in’ or ‘interested on’

Prepositions are similar to conjunctions in that they also serve as connectors. The difference is that prepositions specifically help connect nouns or pronouns to another word. Some common prepositions include:

  • Behind
  • Across
  • Until
  • Before
  • Around
  • For

‘Other than’ can also be used as a preposition, where it takes on the meaning of ‘except for’. Here are some examples:

  • Other than the monkeys, who were sleeping, we saw all the animals at the zoo today.
  • It looks like all the restaurants are closed other than Happy Charlie’s.
  • You can see how in both these sentences, ‘other than’ could easily be replaced by ‘except for”.

Meaning of ‘other then’

To confirm, ‘other then’ does not mean anything. It is grammatically incorrect to use these two words together in a clause.

However, they can be used separately in the same sentence, as we will see later.

Usage of ‘Then’ and ‘Than’

The words ‘then’ and ‘then’ can also be used on their own in sentences. You don’t need to pair them with ‘other’. Let’s dive into the meaning of each of these words.

Meaning of ‘Than’

The word ‘than’ is itself at times a preposition, at times a conjunction. It makes a comparison between two or more things. Here are some examples of ways you can use it, in complete sentences:

  • I’m taller than my brother.
  • Rather you than me.
  • He’s always anywhere else than at home.

Meaning of ‘Then’

The word ‘then’ can be a noun, adjective or adverb, depending on the context. In any case, it always carries the meaning of a reference to time. Let us use some examples of the word in its different functions.

‘Then’ as a Noun

When ‘then’ functions as a noun, it means it’s referring to a moment in time. This specific moment in time usually has to be identified in the sentence first so that the reader knows what ‘then’ is referring to. See the example below, where ‘then’ refers to the word ‘Saturday:

The wedding’s on Saturday, and I have a lot of preparation to do before then.

‘Then’ as an Adjective

Adjectives qualify nouns. Therefore, when ‘then’ functions as an adjective, it refers back to the noun in the sentence to add more specificity. For example:

I tried to change the rules, but the then president of the club was opposed to it.

In this sentence, ‘then’ refers to the noun ‘president’, to specify that the speaker is referring to the person who was president at the time when she tried to change the rules, not the person who is president now.

‘Then’ as an Adverb

‘Then’ as an adverb in a sentence can have several meanings.

  • ‘At that time’: This time two years ago, I was living in London. Where were you then?
  • ‘Next’: First, the women and children got on the lifeboats, then the men.
  • ‘In addition’: In terms of transport we have our two cars, and then we’ve each got bikes too.
  • ‘In that case’: Go to Harvard, then, if that’s what you want.

This list in not exhaustive, as the word ‘then’ actually has many meanings and can be used in many different contexts in the English language. But since that is not the scope of this article, we’ll leave it at this for now.

Other Uses of ‘Other’ and ‘Then’

Can you ever use 'other' and 'then' in the same sentence? How can you use 'then' in a sentence? All questions we are about to answer. So read on!

Using ‘Other’ and ‘Then’ in the Same Sentence

Though the words ‘other’ and ‘then’ cannot be used in conjunction in the same clause, they can happily coexist in the same sentence.

Here are some examples of this:

  • I thought I wanted the other cookie, but then I decided to have this one instead.
  • The other day I went for a run, then swimming in the sea.
  • We had a fight, but then we made up because we love each other.

As you can see, in all the above sentences, the words ‘other’ and ‘then’ are separated by other words and/or punctuation, which means they are not part of the same clause.

This is the only way you can use ‘other’ and ‘then’ in the same sentence. It is never correct to use ‘other then’ together.

‘Then’ Idioms

As we outlined earlier, the word ‘then’ is a simple four-letter word, yet it can carry so many different meanings.

But it doesn’t stop there! There are also many idioms and expressions that include the word ‘then’ in the English language, and each of those has its own meaning, too.

We’ll introduce some of those for you here.

‘Then Again’

When someone uses the sentence ‘then again’, they’re reconsidering something they just said. For instance:

It would be enjoyable to join a choir. Then again, I don’t have time right now.

As you can see, the speaker was feeling pulled to join a choir. But then they realized that they probably didn’t have the time to do that at the moment.

‘Every Now and Then’

‘Every now and then’ means ‘sometimes. It is used in a sentence to express that you might occasionally engage in an activity, thought, feeling, and so on.

I’m not a very active person, but I do like to go for a run every now and then.

Some people also say ‘every now and again’. This means the same thing.

‘And Then Some’

‘And then some’ is an idiom that can be added at the end of a sentence to emphasize what was said before.

It can also be used to signify you need even more than what you already stated.

I need all the help I can get and then some if I’m going to complete this project on time.

In this sentence, it’s clear that the speaker needs a lot of help.

‘Go On Then’

This somewhat informal expression expresses your consent for someone to proceed. For example:

  • Can I show you my paper?
    Go on then, let’s see it.

Final Thoughts on 'Other Than' and 'Other Then'

As you can see, the words ‘than’ and ‘then’ are very versatile and can take on many different meanings. Especially ‘then’. To summarize:

‘Other than’ is always the correct way to say ‘with the exception of’. It is never right to say ‘other then’.

You can use ‘other’ and ‘then’ in the same sentence, but not together. ‘Other then’ does not mean anything.

If you aren’t sure whether to use ‘than’ or ‘then’, ask yourself whether you are referring to a comparison or a point in time. If it’s a comparison, ‘than’ is the appropriate word. If it’s a point in time (or sometimes order), ‘then’ is the correct word.

We sure hope you feel more confident around your usage of the words now, and specifically around the usage of ‘other than’. If you follow the guidelines set out in this article, you’ll be sure to use all the terms accurately.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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