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Write the Right Word - "then" & "than"

“Then” and “than” don’t mean the same thing and can’t be used interchangeably.

“Then” refers to a specific time. For example, “I can’t go on vacation then” or “He didn’t leave then.”

It also can mean immediately or soon after: “The rain stopped, then started again;” in next order of time: “We ate supper, then dessert;” in next order of place: “On her right is her dad, then her sister;” and in that case or under the circumstances: “If you are sick, then you should stay home.”

“Than” usually indicates comparison. For example, “The producer chose to plant corn rather than wheat.” It also may indicate choice or diversity: “I had no choice other than to leave immediately.” “We’d rather walk than drive.”

Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu

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