‘Than’ is basically used as a conjunction. A conjunction is a grammatical particle that connects words, sentences, phrases, and clauses. It is mostly used when making a comparison or depicting amount/quantity. An example for the former could be, “My cousin looks prettier than me”, or “Electric cars are way better than fuel cars”. In terms of quantity/amount, it is used more like, “I am earning more than I used to”, or “A cup of Cappuccino costs more than a donut”.
‘Then’, being an adverb, indicates time (when?), or is at times also used to connect a sequence of events. Adverbs are words which simplify or modify the meaning of verbs. The adverb ‘then’ is mostly used in cases like, “For a moment she felt his presence, and then realized that he was no more”, or “First the detective observed the victim, then the witness”.
Let’s take a look at some more examples of ‘than’ and ‘then’ usage, and a quick activity to test what you have learned.
Then Vs. Than Usage
Read this sentence carefully; “She rushed to office, and then to the court for the divorce petition.” What can you analyze from the usage of ‘then’? Let’s try splitting the sentence to simplify it. Two events occurred, she rushed to office, and she rushed to the court for the divorce petition. Note that these sentences, when framed separately, look like two different events that occurred at different times, and in regards to two different persons altogether. However, when a ‘then’ is used to connect the two, one can easily infer that the two events occurred in succession, and are associated to the same person.
Take a look at this one. “I was living in New Jersey then.” The sentence provides us two parts of data; one, I was living in New Jersey, and two, the time factor which is indicated by then. Therefore, the sentence conveys that the person, while narrating an incident from his/her past, is telling us that he used to live in New Jersey.
Maple syrup tastes better than molasses. This sentence is basically a comparison between two things – maple syrup and molasses. The word ‘than’ is very essential when comparing two nouns in terms of more, less, better, worst, smart, dumb, and other comparative adjectives.