Then or than?

Then or than

English On The Go: Then or than?

What’s the difference between then and than? Have you ever wondered when to use these two words and felt unsure about which ones to use? We’ve explained the differences below.

The first thing you’ll notice is the spelling. The other difference is the pronunciation. But when people speak very quickly, these two words end up sounding the same.

There are differences in usage as well.

Then can be used when you’re talking about actions related to time and sequence.

We didn’t have smart phones back then.

We went to the movies. Then I went home.

I finished work. Then I had dinner with friends.

Many English expressions have the word then in them.


  • back then
  • every now and then
  • since then
  • from then on
  • there and then
  • only then

On the other hand, than is usually used when comparing things.

Trucks are bigger than cars.

Whales are bigger than ants.

My music collection is bigger than yours.

Remembering the differences:

Remember that then is usually associated with time and both words have the letter E in them. So, if you’re talking about something related to time, use then.

Than is usually associated with comparisons. Notice both words have the letter A in them.

So if you’re comparing things, use than.

Then can be used when you are talking about actions related to time. Then is usually an adverb.


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