Then vs Than in English Grammar
Knowing the difference between then and than in English grammar becomes important due to the fact that then and than are two words that are often confused as one and the same. They, then and than, are actually not one and the same. They are very much different from each other. Then is an adverb and is used to indicate time usually in the past tense and sometimes in the future tense too. On the other hand, the word than is a preposition that is used just before the second part of a comparison. It is known as a conjunction and a preposition. Both then and than have their origins in Old English. The word then is also used in phrases. For example, then and there.
What does Then mean?
As the Oxford English dictionary says then means “at that time; at the time in question.” If you look at the following sentence, you can see how the word then indicates the sense at that time.
Then I heard a loud noise.
Now, look at the following sentence. In this sentence the word then merely indicates time.
I was young then.
In the given sentence, the word then indicates the past when the speaker was younger than he is now.
Sometimes the word then is used to suggest extra information about something as in the sentence given below.
He is feeble now and then he suffers from high blood pressure.
In such cases, you can see the presence of the conjunction and too.
Then is used to end dialogues as in the sentence ‘well then, I shall leave’.
What does Than mean?
The preposition than is used in the fifth case or the ablative case as in the following sentence.
The king is weaker than his opponent.
In the given sentence, you can see that the word than is used just before the second part of the comparison made between the king and his opponent.
It is interesting to note that the word than is sometimes used to show that one incident has happened after another as in the sentence given below.
No sooner I entered my house than I heard the telephone ring.
What is the difference between Then and Than in English Grammar?
• Then is an adverb. Than is a preposition as well as a conjunction. Than is much known for being used in the comparative form.
• Then indicates time. The preposition than is used in the fifth case or the ablative case. This is the major difference between the two words then and than.
• The word than is sometimes used to show that one incident has happened after another.
• The word then sometimes is used in the sense at that time.
• Sometimes the word then is used to suggest extra information about something.
• Then is used to end dialogues.
One has to carefully use the two words than and then according to context. This can only be done if one clearly understands the difference between then and than in English grammar.