All my grammar instructors have been in agreement. Never use 'and then'. However, my word processor auto-corrects 'then' to 'and then'.

Perform task 1, task 2, then task3.

works either way when 'then' is an adverb.

But, used as a conjunctive adverb in a compound sentence, the conjunction gets auto-corrected.

Perform task 1, perform task 2, then perform task 3.

Auto-correct to 'and then perform task 3.'

Who are right? The instructors or the editors of Microsoft Word?

  • 6
    Tell your so-called grammar instructors that they are idiots and then tell them to go and study some more.
    – Joe Dark
    Nov 13, 2014 at 14:53
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    @JoeDark I would upvote your comment if it had no name-calling. I'm certain that you wrote it in good faith, and I think it's effective, maybe too effective. Anyway, I'd like to suggest this post, the Be Nice policy. Nov 13, 2014 at 15:18
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    I found this similar question on SE. Maybe it will help. english.stackexchange.com/questions/47226/…
    – David
    Nov 13, 2014 at 15:48
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    When is 'then' used as a preposition? Can you provide an example?
    – user6951
    Nov 13, 2014 at 18:22
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    @Jim, I am also from the Midwest and learned in school to use then without an 'and'. You aren't the only one! It wasn't until I was working that I learned an 'and' is required. I do wonder if it wasn't a regionalism that just worked its way into our grammar lessons. 'Then' without the conjunction still sounds more natural to my ear and I need to remind myself to use one.
    – michelle
    Nov 13, 2014 at 21:23

2 Answers 2


Per comments, OP's instructors are probably just incompetent (or perhaps he somehow misunderstood what they meant). In standard English, and has two distinct meanings...

1: Dick liked Jane and she liked him
2: Dick insulted Jane and she slapped him

...where #1 simply uses and to join two "independent" statements - stripped of pronoun substitutions,...

1a: Dick liked Jane
and (another statement, with no specific relationship to the first)
1b: Jane liked Dick

But in #2 the conjunction implies a temporal/causal relationship between the two statements...

2a: Dick insulted Jane
and (subsequently - pragmatically, probably consequently)
2b: Jane slapped Dick

Grammatically/semantically, the and in #2 can be replaced by and then or simply then. Perhaps OP's instructors felt he was overusing the two-word form in contexts where it was pragmatically obvious that the second event was later in time and/or caused by the preceding event. But this is a matter of style, nothing to do with grammaticality.

TL;DR: Even if OP's instructors knew what they were talking about, they've obviously failed to convey the correct information to their student. The only reasons to avoid and then are (1) - if the context implies no [con]sequential relationship, and (2) - because using it excessively can result in a stilted prose style.

EDIT: In fairness to OP's instructors, they might be (mistakenly, imho) attempting to impose notions derived from prescriptive grammar. Consider...

2a: Dick insulted Jane
2c: Then Jane slapped Dick
2d: Jane then slapped Dick
2e: Jane slapped Dick then

...where 2c-2e are all valid sentences/clauses that could follow 2a. It's irrelevant here whether we put a period or a semicolon between 2a and whichever of 2c-2e we choose to use (you wouldn't hear a difference in speech anyway). The point is the fact that then can be moved around like this implies it's an adverb, not a coordinating conjunction. As that link says...

Be careful of the words then and now; neither is a "coordinating conjunction", so what we say about coordinating conjunctions' roles in a sentence and punctuation does not apply to those two words.

I cant say I find the above caveat particularly enlightening, but it may help explain some of the antipathy directed at the usage and then.


"And then" is redundant. Regardless of what other words surround it. Dick slapped Jane and Jane slapped Dick. Dick slapped Jane, then Jane slapped dick. Dick slapped Jane and then Jane slapped dick.

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