‘Then' vs 'Than': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 7, 2022

Is someone taller ‘then’ you or taller ‘than’ you? What’s the difference between these two words? These words trip up even native English speakers, but we’ll cover the correct usage for both words below. Plus, you’ll learn what they both mean and how to use both of them in a sentence correctly.

The short answer is that the difference is:

  • ‘Then’ is used when talking about time.
  • ‘Than’ is used when you're comparing multiple things, people, or places. 

When to Use ‘Then’ and ‘Than’

Now that you’ve got a bit of an idea of what the words both mean let’s talk about when to use both words.

You’d generally use ‘then’ when you’re talking about something relating to time.

Use ‘than’ when comparing two things or people.

‘Then’ vs. ‘Than’ – What’s the Difference? 

As you’ve just learned, the difference between the two words is that ‘than’ is used for comparisons, and ‘then’ is used in relation to time.

Now let’s go over the definition and meaning of each word.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Then’

The word ‘then’ is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “at that time,” “soon after that: next in order of time,” “following next after in order of position, narration, or enumeration: being next in a series,” “in addition: besides,” “as a necessary consequence,” “in that case,” “used after but to qualify or offset a preceding statement,” “according to that: as may be inferred,” and “as it appears: by way of summing up.”

The noun version of the word can be defined as: “that time.”

The adjective is defined as: “existing or acting at or belonging to the time mentioned.”

A few synonyms of the word include:

  • Additionally
  • Besides
  • Furthermore
  • Moreover
  • Yet
  • Again
  • Either
  • Likewise
  • Too
  • Also
  • Further
  • More
  • Withal

Definition and Meaning of ‘Than’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘than’ is: “used as a function word to indicate the second member or the member taken as the point of departure in a comparison expressive of inequality > used with comparative adjectives and comparative adverbs” and “used as a function word to indicate a difference of kind, manner, or identity > used especially with some adjectives and adverbs that express diversity.”

Other definitions of the word include: “rather than > usually used only after prefer, preferable, and preferably,” “other than,” and “used especially after scarcely and hardly.”

As a preposition, it’s defined as: “in comparison with.”

How to Use ‘Then’ in a Sentence 

Now that we know what both words mean let’s talk about how to use them in a sentence. We’ll start with ‘then.’ Take a look at a few example sentences.

  • Once we’re finished cleaning up, then we can go to the movies.
  • I don’t know if I’d like a Cosmopolitan more than I’d like a margarita.
  • She went to school, then the mall, and then back home.
  • I’m going to my parents' for the holiday, then to my boyfriend’s parents’ house.
  • Way back then, we used to have VHS tapes, then DVDs, and now we have streaming services.
  • If you get the gist, you don’t really need to read the whole thing.

How to Use ‘Than’ in a Sentence

Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘than’ in a sentence.

  • She has on a different color than you; weren’t you supposed to wear matching outfits?
  • She has more cookies than me. It’s not fair!
  • My niece is taller than my sister now. She’s growing so fast.
  • Valerie always thinks she’s smarter than everyone else in the class.
  • She did a lot more traveling than I did after college.
  • Bree puts a bit more effort into her pastries than the rest of the baking class.

Final Thoughts on ‘Then’ and ‘Than’ 

To summarize, you know that the difference between ‘then’ and ‘then’ is that the former relates to time while the latter deals with comparisons. And you’ve got some examples to use to create your own sentences.

If you ever get stuck, you can always come back here and brush up on what you’ve been learning. We’ve got an entire library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases you might encounter in the English language. Don’t be afraid to come back whenever you need to – bookmark the page if it helps!

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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