“Then” and “Than”

Then and than. Homonyms. 

Two totally different meanings, but they sound almost exactly alike. The words then and than are very similar in spelling and sound. There’s only one letter off that doesn’t make them the same. They’re not the same, different from each other. Still, why do some people mix up the two words? I browse the internet a lot for a lot of different things, and sometimes I happen to come upon the mixed of words of then and than. I do not have a huge fit, even though I’m a Grammar Nazi –

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– it just bothers me that the word isn’t correct. It is a possibility that the person wasn’t paying attention, or maybe he/she just typed in the wrong letter when they were writing really fast. Or maybe they just don’t know the difference. I think, though, that once you figure out the different meanings and can easily tell the difference.

“Then” refers to a time when something takes, or has taken, place. “Then she met him,” “Then it all changed,” “Then we had pizza”. Once you pick up on it, it’s easy to remember. It just sort of prints into your brain, and then voila, you know “then”. And now I feel like I’m giving a Language Arts lesson in a classroom. . . I don’t think that’s supposed to happen.

“Than” compares to something. “She was braver than the other contestant,” and “the teacher was smarter than the younger kids”, and so on. 

See? Totally different, yet so similar. It’s easy to confuse the words, especially when you are writing in a rush, than then you don’t really catch that mix-up. There are a few times that I have written something, looked back, and saw that I messed up then with than, or the other way around. It’s not always something you think about, it could just be a mistake. Perhaps next time you write something (blog post, facebook status, novel, etc.), you won’t have to wonder if you mixed up those words. It’s easy to remember once you understand the difference. 

Who knew that two words could be so alike, yet so different. Kind of like identical twins. They look the same, but they have different personalities, tastes in fashion, wants and needs. The list goes on and on. Identical twins are actually a great example of then and than. 

There are many other words that sound the same but have different meanings. There’s their, they’re, and there, here and hear, write and right. I could go on and on all day of the different words sounding alike. There are probably hundreds of thousands of those darn homonyms, and I’ll never be able to count them all. But hey, at least I got then and than out of the way! 

Simple as that. 

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