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Monday, April 23, 2012

Then v. Than

Then v. Than 

Based on FaceBook posts and emails I receive, there seems to be great confusion about when to use then and when to write than. As you will soon see, however, the distinction between the two words is greater than the one letter that separates them. And once we understand the distinction, we will use the words right every time.

Than is used for making comparisons.
     She is no more brilliant than a wood ant.
     Time slips by faster than a 12 year-old boy up to mischief.
     I'd rather own a pony than an hissing cockroach.

Then is an expression of time or of order of events.
     Go to the Dixie Queen, then turn left.
     When it rains, the fun will end; we won't go home until then.
     First, peel the banana. Next, hold it firmly below the drape of the peels. Then, take a bite.
     It wasn't until then, when we saw the shark fin, that we were scared.
If this post proves I'm smarter than a 5th grader, then leave a comment. Even if it doesn't, leave a comment :)

Tomorrow: Underline

This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.

17 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Very helpful....I may have been guilty of using then/than incorrectly.
I will say it again....when this challenge is all over you should print up all these posts in a helpful little brochure. I'd buy it.

Grover said...

I really really don't want to sound snooty/superior or anything like that, but I don't think we really have this problem in the UK. I've never had any confusion about which one to use, and I've never met anyone who has. Weird.

Jo said...

I agree with Grover, I have never heard anyone with this problem. Either in the UK or Canada.

Lucy Adams said...

The U.S. school system doesn't seem to promote a clear distinction between these two words. Anyone with American friends on FaceBook can attest to that.

Thank you for weighing in today!

Betty Alark said...

I've misused the two a couple of times I'm sure.

When I take the time to think about the words after I've written them in a sentence - the clarity is obvious; then all I need to do is make the correction if needed!

http://bettyalark.blogspot.com

Jaye Robin Brown said...

I think you are smarter than a fifth grader. And when I get to the end of this sentence, then I will hit the enter button.

Wendy said...

The confusion was one of my pet peeves when I was teaching. I chalk the error up to lazy speech. I tried to get students to remember that "then" and "next" both have "e," and "than" and "compare" both have "a."

Joy Ciaffoni said...

Great idea you have here with the A-Z challenge. Nice to meet you.

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

Oft confused words. And, in my part of the country, we like to end our sentences with then. So, have a great day, then!

Play off the Page

Dana said...

This seemed to be one of the hardest lessons for my college Developmental English students to learn. I agree that the distinction between the two isn't taught as well as it should be in the primary and secondary school systems.

Sue McPeak said...

For sure I'd rather own a pony than a hissing cockroach, but then I'm from Texas where the cockroaches are bigger than ponies. Did I get the then's and than's right?

Well done for the Letter 'T'...thanks for stopping by CollectInTexas Gal....Sue

Marquita Hockaday said...

This is one that I have to think about sometimes before really typing/writing it. I usually don't make mistakes once I get to the writing, but every now and then...I do have to pause.

Teresa Cypher said...

Wonderful post! Then and than usually don't give me problems. :-) But, we all have Achilles' heels. Mine is affect and effect. I will have to check back through your posts and see if you have done that one :-) Have a great Tuesday :-)

Pearson Report said...

Your posts are a favourite of mine, Lucy! Thank you for shedding light on correct grammar usage - and this one hits the spot.

Jenny @ Pearson Report
Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lucy .. I sincerely hope I'm smarter than a fifth grader and you certainly are ..

Than and then - who'd have thought they need some descriptive words ..

As always though excellent post - cheers Hilary

Robyn Shulman said...

Hi Lucy,
Thank you for stopping by today. I really like your blog (coming from a teacher here)! Great information.

Thanks again,
Robyn

William Kendall said...

Ah, thank you very much!

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