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Grammar Tip: "Than" vs "Then"

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Certain words seem to frequently be confused and used incorrectly. This is a page about grammar tip: "than" vs "then".


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February 15, 2010

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."

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."


JustPlainJo from Springfield, Ohio

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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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