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(meaning, $94K, at the time the auction was withdrawn).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
    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.
    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.
    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construct (i.e. the use of the imperfect tense) already implies that the figure given is from the time the auction was withdrawn. 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.
    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
    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
    Feb 11, 2014 at 12:38
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    Considering their motto: Real news, real entertainment ... in real time, I think this could happen. :) 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. Feb 11, 2014 at 20:20

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