The difference between then and than is fairly simple, but many people, including experienced English speakers, have difficulty with these two words. In fact, “than” and “then” are different parts of speech, used in entirely different ways; the confusion is probably linked to the fact that they sound very similar in spoken English, making it difficult to tell which word is being used. Knowing the difference between then and than will greatly improve the readability and quality of your written English.
The word “than” is a conjunction, which means that it connects two clauses and it establishes a relationship between two clauses. For example, you could say that “A mango is bigger than a lemon,” or “The book was better than the movie.” Any time you are comparing two things, “than” is the appropriate word to use.
On the other hand, “then” is an adverb, meaning that it modifies a part of speech or a clause. It joins two clauses which are separated by time; “then” telling you when something happened (or is going to happen). For example, you could say “he went to the store (first), and then stopped by the park,” or “please do your homework, and then you may watch television.” In both of these sentences, the word “then” could be replaced by “after that,” and the sentences would make sense.
Try this quick quiz:
1. I like rice better ______ potatoes.
2. We went to the Mall and _____ we went to see a movie.
3. She put on her raincoat, _____ she put on her hat.
4. An elephant is bigger _____ a mouse.
5. We turned right. _____ we turned left.
6. The girls decided they would rather just go to town______ drive all the way to the city._____
they changed their minds and drove to the city!
I shall post the answers tomorrow!