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Write the Right Word: Then and Than

Maybe using “then” when the word should be “than” is a simple typo, but this mistake has been cropping up a lot lately.

The bottom line is: “Then” and “than” cannot be used interchangeably.

“Then” indicates time or a progression of time. For example: “I’m busy until this afternoon. Then I can go to the movie.” “We went to dinner and then we watched a movie.”

“Then” has several other uses, including these meanings:

  • In addition, moreover, besides – “The airfare costs $325, then you have to pay a $25 luggage fee.”
  • In that case, accordingly – “If the traffic is heavy, then I may not get to work on time.”
  • Being so at the time – “The bill was vetoed by then-Gov. John Smith.”

Use “than” when making comparisons between objects, people, etc. For example: “She is taller than I am.” “Your cat is older than mine.”

Also always use “than” with words such as “rather,” “more” and “less.” For instance: “Plant corn rather than wheat this year.” “I have less money than he has.” “The producer planted more than 10 acres of lentils.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

 

 

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