I read the sentence on Mirror.co.uk

Mystery surrounds the withdrawal from sale on eBay of an iPhone complete with the Flappy Bird app - which was fetching a staggering than $94,000.

"...a staggering than $94000?" The conjunction 'than' is used for comparison. What does it compare with $94000 here?

This would have meant better to me - "...which was fetching a staggering $94000." Am I missing something?

2 Answers 2


It could be a misspelling of "then":

which was fetching a staggering then $94,000

(meaning, $94K, at the time the auction was withdrawn).

Sometimes the word "then" is used that way. For example, in a similar fashion, one book mentions:

Bill was set to do a then "$10,000 Pyramid" segment

(The show is now called $25,000 Pyramid, but it was formally called $10,000 pyramid.)

Another book mentions when God was speaking to

a then one-hundred-year-old Abraham

meaning, God was talking to Abraham at the time when he was 100 years old.

I'm not saying that I prefer this theory over the hypothesis offered by oerkelens (I don't), but I do think that, on an English learner's forum, there might be some value in explaining how then can be used in this manner.

  • I like the creativity of this option :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 14:01
  • It would be weird to see "then $94,000". Even in historical contexts where a dollar had a very different value worth noting, I'd expect something else, e.g. "In 1872, mailing a letter cost $0.02, worth $1.50 in today's money" or "An egg costs 1 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars due to massive inflation". Also I want to say it'd be hyphenated, then-"$10,000 Pyramid"
    – Tim S.
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 17:18
  • 1
    @TimS. - I initially thought it would be hyphenated, too, but the few instances I found omitted the hyphen: a reference made with regard to a then forty-one year old.... Since reading your comment, though, I managed to find a few with the hyphen included, e.g.: He was a then-forty-two-year-old veteran, a smart pitcher. One reference even puts the then (and corresponding now) in quotes: its growth from a "then" ten-mile railroad to its "now" grand proportions of 4,786 miles.
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 18:25
  • 1
    This option is...not impossible, but certainly quite improbable, I think. The "was fetching" construct (i.e. the use of the imperfect tense) already implies that the figure given is from the time the auction was withdrawn. Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 20:18
  • 1
    @Kyle - I agree. In fact, I would expect that if this were really the case, it would be worded as: which was fetching a then-staggering $94,000, not a staggering then $94,000. Still, there's a typo buried in that original somewhere...
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 23:14

I would assume that something went wrong when somebody edited the line from:

[...] was fetching more than $94,000.


[...] was fetching a staggering $94,000.

The than should certainly not be there, it seems a mistake on the site.

Side note: In your line without than, you are missing the article a :)

  • Trust me, I had initially put that! Thanks. Edited!
    – Maulik V
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 12:35
  • Yeah, ELL ate it when you posted :P Na, I see plenty of people missing out on articles, but by now I don't expect it to be anything but a typo from you :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 12:38
  • 1
    Considering their motto: Real news, real entertainment ... in real time, I think this could happen. :) Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 12:42
  • I think it's a bit too soft to say that this "seems" to be a mistake; this is definitely not correct usage. Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 20:20

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