👉 Then vs Than
Then is used to indicate time, whereas than is used to compare two things.
Then = time
- A sequence of events / next / afterwards
- At a specific time
Than = compare
- Comparative adjective (bigger, smaller, older, younger) + than
👉🏻 Then Meaning
- At that time / at the time you’re talking about (in the past or future).
- Don’t email me on Saturday, I’ll be in London then.
- He’s always talking about the 80s, about how things were better then.
2. After that, then, afterwards, next.
- He came in the front door then started shouting at me!
- She played football then rugby.
- Let me finish this page, and then I’ll put my book down.
👉🏻 Then Usage
The action you’re talking about will happen between now and a specified time in the future.
- Call me on Tuesday; I should have news by then.
- What will I be doing in 5 years’ time? By then I should have bought a car and been promoted!
At that exact time / suddenly.
- Just then she pulled into the drive in her new car.
- Just then the phone started ringing.
Used to describe specific habits / what life was like at a specified period of time in the past.
- You should’ve grown up in the 70s – back then you’d never expect someone to drive you to school!
- If you think about it we’ve come a long way since the year 2000. Back then hardly anyone had a smart phone!
And then some
And more / and plenty more than that / and a lot more – especially when it’s more than is expected.
- He paid me what he owed me and then some!
- She did all the work the boss asked her to do and then some – she was here all night!
👉🏻 Then Idioms
From then on
From a specific time in the past to now /an unspecified time in the future – usually permanently.
- She got promoted and from then on she wouldn’t talk to me any more.
- I pulled a muscle playing football and haven’t been able to run from then on.
Then and there
Immediately – at that time and in that place – usually something surprising.
- When she found out her favourite brand was opposed to fair trade she stopped in the middle of the shopping centre and started taking her clothes off then and there.
- I told him he was addicted to his phone so he threw it away then and there.
Every now and then
Sometimes, not often.
- I see her every now and then, but we never speak to each other.
- Every now and then I’ll pop into the shop around the corner to check if they have my favourite cereal in, but they never do.
On second thoughts, in contrast, on the other hand.
- She said she’d be here, but then again she always says that and she never comes.
- I thought I’d be richer by now, but then again, I keep spending my money on expensive things so it makes sense that I’m not!
👉Then has various different uses.
Look at the following examples:
AT A TIME IN THE PAST
- I used to live here in the 90s and I haven’t been back since then.
- Do you remember how much we used to play in this garden?
- Yes. We were so carefree then.
NEXT (after something)
- First, beat the eggs then add the milk.
- Sharon spent a few minutes reading, and then went to sleep.
IF SOMETHING IS TRUE
- I can’t stand my new boss.
- Then you’ll need to look for a new job.
- But I love my job.
- Try to talk to him then.
On the other hand, than is mainly used in comparative sentences:
- MyEnglishTeacher.eu is more fun than most other online schools.
- My English is much better than my sister’s.
- She’s younger than me.
- I’ve got more books than her.
- Our dog is more intelligent than yours.
👉 Than Meaning
If you want to compare two things, you need to use the comparative adjective + than.
- I’m older than my sister.
- My sister is taller than my mum.
- My mum is younger than Theresa May.
- Theresa May is richer than me.
- England is smaller than the USA.
- Portugal is further away than Spain.
- Astrophysics is more difficult than A-level physics.
Than is also used with verbs in the past tense (especially the past perfect) to say one action happened immediately after another.
However, this usage is very uncommon, and only with adverbial phrases, so usually, when you’re talking about a sequence of events or time, you should use then.
- No sooner had she sat down than the cat was in her lap and purring.
- Hardly had they got a cat than their mouse problem was solved.
👉 Than Usage
Meaning besides, apart from, except for, only:
- Other than me, there was no one there.
- I didn’t want to do anything other than lie in bed and watch Netflix.
Meaning in addition to:
- Have you read any books other than Harry Potter?
- Are you studying any languages other than French?
Something is done in place of/ instead of something else:
- For lunch, I eat out rather than cook at home.
- Rather than taking the car to the garage, I fixed it myself.
- Why don’t you help rather than just standing there watching?
Greater in extent or degree:
- It cost a lot more than I was expecting it to.
- It always takes more energy than I expect to get out of bed.
Smaller in extent or degree:
- It surely takes less than 40 minutes for you to get home from here?
Only a small amount or not at all:
- He was less than proficient in English.
No less of a ______(than)
Not any less of a degree of:
- He was no less of a man than his father, even though his father would say otherwise.
👉 Than Idioms
Actions speak louder than words
What someone does is a lot more important than what they say.
- Person 1: He said he loves me, but he went out with his friends on my birthday instead of spending time with me.
- Person 2: You know what they say – actions speak louder than words… I think you should break up with him.
More than ever
More now than ever before.
- Since I saw that documentary on the USA I want to go there more than ever!
Eyes bigger than your stomach
You think you can eat more than you actually manage to.
- Person 1: I always leave a plate full of food behind when I go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant – it’s terrible!
- Person 2: You know what your problem is – your eyes are bigger than your stomach!
Rather you than me
I wouldn’t like to switch places with you / I don’t envy you.
- Person 1: I have to walk home in the snow now.
- Person 2: Rather you than me!
Can’t see further than the end of your nose
To be selfish / self-involved / so wrapped up in your own problems you can’t see anyone else’s.
- I tried to talk to her about the problems I’m having with my family at the moment but it was a waste of time – she didn’t listen at all then started talking about herself. She can’t see past the end of her own nose.
A fate worse than death
Overdramatic reaction to an unpleasant situation.
- He invited me to go out with his friends on Saturday but listening to them talk about football for 6 hours would be a fate worse than death.
Q: More Then or More Than?
1. More than means to a great degree or extremely.
- I am more than happy to help you with your homework.
- I love you more than anything else in the world.
- I am more than a little upset that you lied to me.
It can be used to explain something is over or has surpassed another amount.
- too much
- I receive more than 30 emails every day.
- If I am more than 5 minutes late for work, my boss deducts it from my pay.
- My Mum has been a teacher for more than 20 years.
2. More then is used to compare the frequency of action in the past and how it relates to the present. Specifically then refers back to the previous statement.
- When I was at school I didn’t study very much. If I had studied more then, I would probably have a better job now.
Then relates to when I was at school
- In the 1970s flared trousers were very popular. They were worn more then than they are now.
Then relates to the 1970s
More then can be seen together in some situations where it is not used as a single phrase in itself.
- If you would like more, then please help yourself.
- If I practiced more, then I would probably improve quicker.
Q: Rather Then or Rather Than?
✅ Rather than implies preference. We use it to give more importance to one thing when two alternatives or preferences are being compared.
- Why do some people spend more time on Facebook rather than Twitter?
- I would rather go for a run than go to the gym.
Rather than can be substituted for instead of
- When she received the news, rather than being pleased, she was angry.
- Now Susan has turned 40, rather than settling down, she is about to go travelling for 6 months.
❌ There is no use for rather then. Then is an adverb that specifies time. Rather then is a misinterpretation of rather than, often confused as then and than have similar sounds and spelling.
Q: No Later Then or Than?
✅ No later than is an adverb phrase. It specifies the outer limit of when something can occur.
- You should arrive at the airport no later than 2 hours before check-in
- Please reply no later than Monday 31st August
- Be home no later than 10 o’clock
✅ No later then can be used as a confirmation of time. It is very informal and colloquial.
If we take the example above:
Mum: Be home no later than 10 o’clock
Son: All my friends stay out until 10:30
Mum: OK, 10:30. No later then.
Q: Other Than or Other Then?
✅ Other than is used to mean except or only.
- Other than peanuts, I don’t really like nuts.
- No-one else can sign the form other than you.
- Do you like any other types of cheese, other than camembert?
✅ Other then can be used when we make a decision about choosing something based on the information we are given.
Waiter: I’m sorry sir we are out of seafood.
Customer: OK, I’ll choose the other option then.
Seller: This phone doesn’t have all the features.
Customer: I’ll take the other one then.
Here, then means in that case (based on that information).
Q: Better Than or Then?
✅ Better than means superior to. It is used to compare two or more things. Other synonyms include
- to surpass
- to overtake
- to outperform
- I’m better than you at sports. In fact, I’m better than everyone in my school.
- My new phone has so many cool features. It’s much better than my old one.
- They have restocked our school library. It’s much better than before.
✅ Better then refers to something having improved by a certain point in time. As it relates to time, it is positioned at the end of the phrase.
- I’m going to make some home improvements. It will be much better then.
- It’s John’s birthday party next week. I hope you will feel better then. (relating to health)
- They restocked the school library. It was much better then.