I frequently use then where I might should use than.

For example. My previous question was self-titled:

Is pretty nice nicer then nice?

And was edited to:

Is pretty nice nicer than nice?

Have not thought of it before other that it sounds OK and hence used it. Looking up the definition at for example Google I get:

  1. at that time; at the time in question.
  2. after that; next; afterwards.

Where neither fits as far as I can see, (perhaps 1.). Is it completely wrong to use then in this context?


Look in the dictionary. OK, accept that, but:

Have a look at for example:

The amount of effort by numerous people and sources on the subject might suggest the issue is not that obvious in every case. This can obviously be interpreted in several ways in regards to causation.

The example from Cambridge is for instance one that throw me off a bit. (And similar cases might subconsciously have brought me to the dilemma I sometimes face when choosing between the two.)

But; hope I am on the right track now. Then is better used than than both when and then.

  • 2
    Yes, it's completely wrong to use then in this context. – Era Feb 5 '16 at 21:26
  • Then could work if used in a contrived way with your original sentence: "Is pretty nice, nicer, then nice, the correct descending order of nice-ness?" – Peter Feb 5 '16 at 21:27
  • 1
    If you're comparing things, always use "than". – Hellion Feb 5 '16 at 21:42
  • 1
    If you study, then some day you will know more than I do about English grammar. – ColleenV Feb 5 '16 at 22:09

Then and than have two different grammatical functions:

  • Then (/ðen/) is an adverb and it is used to express a temporal relationship between two or more events (with the meaning of "next" or "after"), a cause - effect condition (as a synonymous of "as a result"), or to add some more details to a sentence (with the meaning of "in addition" or "moreover") :

    • Let me ​finish this ​job, then we'll go. [time]
    • If you ​plan the ​project well, then everything should ​fall into ​place. [~ "as a result"]
    • Let's ​see - there were Mary, Jack, Greg and myself - then there were the ​children, Amy, John and Laura, ​plus the two ​dogs. [~ "in addition"]

  • Than (/ðæn/ or /ðən/) is a conjunction and it's used in comparative sentences to introduce the term of comparison; it is preceded by a comparative adjective or it's used with adverbs of quantity such as "more" or "less":

    • Is "pretty nice" nicer than "nice"?
    • I ​spent more than I ​intended to.


Then is for time or ordering
Than is for comparing

Maybe a way to remember it is

Then and time and order have an e
Than and compare have an a


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