Grammar Tip: "Than" vs "Then"

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My mother always taught me that speaking, and writing well was the sign of intelligence. It distresses me how many usually well-spoken people mix up the two simple words than and then when writing. I figured out a mnemonic I hope will help.

Than is a comparison word. For example, I might say "I like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate." Or, "My children are all taller than I am."

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Then, on the other hand, is a sequence of events word. For example, I might say, "I'll save my files, then I'll turn off my computer." Or, "My husband went to the grocery, then he stopped at his friend's house."

Remember, THAN = COMPARISON. THEN = SEQUENCE of EVENTS.

JustPlainJo from Springfield, Ohio

February 15, 20100 found this helpful

Oh, you hit on one of my favorite peeves! You're (you are)

Your (your car, your tv, it's possessive)

I've seen Major Television networks screw up these words on messages to the viewers. I can't understand how they got past the 2nd grade! I don't consider myself an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not that stupid!

Once I saw this message by NBC: "YOUR WATCHING A PRERECORDED PROGRAM" (As the English subjects say: 'That crazes me' :) )

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February 16, 20100 found this helpful

Yeah, whatever happened to taking pride in good communication skills? Many of my email buddies can't even spell "yeah" correctly. My screen-reader even picks up misspellings and typos, which I think is funny and sad at the same time. Funny that it's that good, sad that so many otherwise intelligent folks can't communicate. I could go on forever - and look for more grammar tips as I get good ones. Thanks for your input!

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

The "Your" and "You're" bothers me too. The other word that I see misspelled all the time is "definitely". I usually see it as "definately". One time on the door of a major car dealership where I lived was a sign that said "Recieved" instead of "Received". I couldn't help it, I had to tell them it was misspelled. Then next week they had it corrected!

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

How about "lie" and "lay," "its" and "it's," and "farther" and "further"? The latter is the hardest to get right, the first is probably my pet peeve, and the middle one is the most prevalent. I know I'm pedantic, but I do love our language. It's truly amazing how sloppy people in the business of imparting information to us via the media can slip up so often.

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Anonymous Flag
February 17, 20100 found this helpful

Oh my goodness! This one is receiving a huge thumbs up!

Let us not forget 'let's' ;-) Or writing greatful instead of grateful. Or the many misspellings of restaurant? And speaking of 'misspelling' ;-) Then there is their/they're and there. One more: Grammer instead of grammar ;-)

My biggest pet peeve is the new shorthand language such as 'U R' :-o

I will confess, however, that I am often guilty of writing or speaking the word 'cause' for short of because and I want to slap myself silly ;-)

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

I'm a bit dislexic (writing and math, no problem with reading) and mispell a lot of words and suffer from odd syntax at times-but I was in the top 10% of my English entrance exam for college. however, that was about 30 years ago, and I haven't remembered all that I learned back then. long story, but I had a lot of help along the way.

My major writing dislexic issue are the "b" letters-b,p,q,d and 9 and 6 get twisted around. sound-alike words throw me, and connective words-it's becomes sit, the becomes het, etc. can't find typos here? I go back and correct my spelling-though I am guilty of some recurrent misspellings, including "definately", "extremely", and there's one or two more that elude my memory at the moment. I know these words are misspelled, but can never recall which is correct, the mispelled words or the correctly spelled words.

I have a pet peeve, as well. "should of". no such animal. I hear it and see it all the time. it is should have, and never should be should of.

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Anonymous Flag
February 17, 20100 found this helpful

One more peeve ;-)

Saying 'ta' instead of 'to' ;-)

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

Saying " different to" instead of "different from".

Marg from England.

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

lol! Wow, I never knew there were so many of us out there! But it isn't just spelling - pronunciation matters, too.

Here's one that drives me nuts: pronouncing "pedophile" with a short e (pehdophile) instead of a long e (peedophile.) "Pehdo" is related to the feet, so a "pehdophile" has a foot fetish. The correct word for the perverts who prey on our children is "peedophile."

One more: even former President George W Bush is guilty of this one. The word is "nuclear," not Nucular!" I could go on and on!

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

How about people who say "supposebly" instead of "supposedly?"

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

My Absolute BIGGEST pet peeve is when people write "loose" instead of "lose" as in "I need to loose weight". I got a postcard from a SCHOOL that had this mistake printed on it. UNBELIEVABLE! And let us not forget "Valentime's Day". I could go on and on.

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

Jo, I'd like to read an essay regarding the correct use of the apostrophe. Recently I saw a sign; Open on Sunday's. Also, many confuse its vs. it's. While driving I saw the sign, Videos and DVD's. There are many other incorrect uses of the apostrophe. It would be informative to read an essay about the correct and incorrect use of it.

Nancy T. in Springfield

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Anonymous Flag
February 18, 20100 found this helpful

For Nancy T. in Springfield :-) http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp

And I simply can't resist one more: Pronouncing February as Febuary ;-)

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

I was sure I would see my pet peeve here! It drives me crazy when a recipe calls for a certain number of "tablespoonfuls" instead of "tablespoonsful." Glad I am not the only Thrifty Fun member of the Grammar Police! lol

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February 20, 20100 found this helpful

k, Nancy, I'll be working on that subject. Letting it percolate, lol! btw, if you're also a FreeCycler, I think we've met . My zip is also 45506. :D

Joan, I'm so glad I'm not alone, too! It feels great to know others also care how well they express themselves.

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February 20, 20100 found this helpful

Laniegirl. Did you really live on the door of a car dealership? (just teasing)

How about the word "irregardless"? :)

Our grammar suffers when our educational system is as unknowledgable as the students it is trying to teach 'Blind leading the blind'.

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February 20, 20100 found this helpful

Nancy 45506, apostrophes are basically:

a. Used in contractions (you're, don't, haven't, etc.)

b. Possessive tense (Bobby's, Pam's)

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp

(I think my HS English teachers are rolling over in their graves).

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February 23, 20100 found this helpful

As prevalent as spelling and grammatical mistakes are these days, I still cringe when I read them and try hard to avoid them in my own writing. We all make mistakes sometimes, especially when we write with our brains on autopilot and then fail to proofread what we have written. It seems, though, that an increasing number of people don't appear to know or follow the rules of good grammar when it comes to using words such as than & then; your & you're; it's & its; effect & affect; their/there/they're; to & too; and lose & loose. I'm relieved to learn that I'm not the only one concerned about the prevalence of spelling and grammatical mistakes.

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February 23, 20100 found this helpful

You should try being a ThriftyFun editor :) We try to make you all appear to be as brilliant as we know you are, without changing your "voice". It is a rewarding challenge. I know many intelligent and creative people don't spell well and grammar school is something in the far past for many of our members.

My personal favorite error is the many ways to write "voila!" I have seen wallah, wala, viola, wha-la and many other combinations.

My biggest pet peeve is "alot." I change it to "a lot" every single time I see it, which is pretty much every day.

Oh, and don't get me started on punctuation. . .

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March 1, 20100 found this helpful

Whew! Cajun, thanks for posting that link. I've been struggling with a way to simplify the apostrophe thing since Nancy asked.

I guess I can sum up one common goof - that is, THEY'RE/THEIR/THERE - in this one sentence: "THEY'RE (they are) having THEIR (possessive) dinner in THERE (location.)

Hope that makes at least this one confusing set of homonyms a little clearer!

btw, Jess, I'd enjoy being a ThriftyFun editor if only I had the time and energy!

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March 1, 20100 found this helpful

"where you at?" makes me cringe!

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March 3, 20100 found this helpful

Ginnee, I spent a lot of time in speech therapy so I wouldn't slur my Rs - so I'm really, really sensitive to lazy speech!

btw, the low number of comments you've posted (beside your name) tells me you're new to ThriftyFun. Welcome!

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March 15, 20100 found this helpful

Just wanted to thank everyone who voted for this tip. I got the email today - I'm a contest winner thanks to all of your votes!

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Anonymous Flag
March 16, 20100 found this helpful

It is a great tip and you're welcome and Congratulations! ;-)

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March 16, 20100 found this helpful

Oh, my! I'm so happy to see I'm not the only member of the Grammar Police here :)

True story: The hubby, adult daughter and I were cruising the flea market one morning when my daughter saw an item she knew I'd like, and held it up to show my husband. He went over and whispered something to her, and she replaced it and moved along.

I was puzzled. "Dear," the DH said "I told her not to bother. The booth had misspelled signs and we know how you can get...."

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March 18, 20100 found this helpful

PupperMom, I love that story! The funniest thing is, I oftentimes catch misspellings and typos, even using a screen-reader, lol!

Hey, gang, I have a 2nd grammar tip, "Stationary vs Stationery." It got published this week. I'd really love it if you all help me win a 2nd tip contest. :D

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May 22, 20100 found this helpful

In the Ohio school district where I taught, we were NOT to spend much time on grammar! At least that is what we were told. English became language arts with an emphasis on writing. The organization of the writing, not the spelling or grammar, was important because that was the emphasis of the state proficiency testing. We teachers were told that spelling and grammar were not important.

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September 30, 20110 found this helpful

pronouncing 6th as sickth and not sixth

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January 19, 20130 found this helpful

affect - An action

effect - A result

could of - [Youre an idiot]

could've - Could have

it's - It is or it has

its - Indicating possession

loose - Not tightened

lose - Failed to keep or maintain of

their - Belonging to; indicating possession

there - A place

they're They are

we're - We are

were Past-tense of are

where - A location

you're - You are

your - Indicating possession; belonging to you

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January 19, 20130 found this helpful

What's happened to the apostrophes?

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