Monday, March 18, 2013

Then Than


The more I read in books and blogs the more I see the misuse of the word than. I’m sure it could be a typo on some occasions but the prevalence of this mistake makes me think the understanding of when to use than or then needs to be reviewed.

Than is used for a comparison. This book is longer than that one. It is cloudier today than it was yesterday.

Then is used for sequences or consequences. We are familiar with if/then simple sentences. 

The problem seems to come when it isn’t a straight if/then sentence then the error occurs more often. In reading the preceding sentence it becomes apparent, hopefully, that it is an if/then. The word if isn’t used but if we dissect it a little we can see the if/then structure.

The problem seems to come when it isn’t a straight if/then sentence then the error occurs more often.

When Bobby gets here then we will go.

Being able to replace when with if shows this is and if/then type of sentence.   This isn’t a comparison it’s a cause-effect, a consequence. 

These are simple ways to help decide which to use; then or than.
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1 comment:

  1. That's definitely one of the trouble words. Thanks for clearing it up!

    ReplyDelete