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Origin of than
grammar notes for than
Than occurs as a preposition in the old and well-established construction than whom : a musician than whom none is more expressive. In informal, especially uneducated, speech and writing, than is usually treated as a preposition and followed by the objective case of the pronoun: He is younger than me. She plays better poker than him, but you play even better than her. See also but1, different, me.
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH thanthan , then
Words nearby than
THAN VS. THEN
What’s the difference between than and then?
Than is a very common word used in comparisons, as in She’s a little older than you or This hot sauce is a lot spicier than that one. Then is a very common word that’s used in situations involving what comes next—either in terms of time (as in Just then, the door opened or We saw a movie and then we drove home) or a result (as in If you forget to water the plants, then they will wilt).
Grammatically speaking, than is used as a conjunction or preposition, while then is used as an adverb or adjective.
Perhaps the most common way the two words are confused is when then is used when it should be than, but doing the reverse is also a common mistake.
One way to tell if you’re using the right word is to remember that then is usually used to indicate what comes next, and then and next are both spelled with the letter e.
Here’s an example of then and than used correctly in the same sentence.
Example: If you want to be an expert, then you’ll need more experience than you have now.
Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between than and then.
Quiz yourself on than vs. then!
Should than or then be used in the following sentence?
I went to the grocery store, _____ the dry cleaners.
How to use than in a sentence
And yet as Robert Ward discovered, Marvin—for all of his larger-than-life machismo—was surprising in real life.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile|Robert Ward|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
My younger, straighter-than-an-arrow son was stopped and arrested in two separate jurisdictions a few years ago.
He was the larger-than-the-life figure, and he loomed impossibly large over this campaign.Former Providence Mayor & Ex-Con Buddy Cianci's Redemption Tour Goes Bust|David Freedlander|November 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Barack Obama is in for a rougher-than-usual couple of months.
Kim is mocking the entire value system on which she built her career, as well as her own less-than-savory past.
Jack probably learned more about the Bible during that trip-its history and its heroes-than during all his former years.Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete|Albert Bigelow Paine
"The Wright brothers invented the lighter-than-air ship early in the twentieth century," he said.The Lost Warship|Robert Moore Williams
Rugel told him that this was the moment of equilibrium, the peak of the faster-than-light motion.The Colors of Space|Marion Zimmer Bradley
The competitor who paid the less-than-carload rate on an equal volume of business would be sadly handicapped.Railroads: Rates and Regulations|William Z. Ripley
Altogether, it was not until the nineteenth century that any real progress toward flight in a heavier-than-air machine was made.The Romance of Aircraft|Lawrence Yard Smith
British Dictionary definitions for than
conjunction, preposition (coordinating)
Word Origin for than
usage for than
Idioms and Phrases with than
see actions speak louder than words; bark is worse than one's bite; better late than never; better safe than sorry; better than; bite off more than one can chew; blood is thicker than water; easier said than done; eyes are bigger than one's stomach; in (less than) no time; irons in the fire, more than one; less than; more dead than alive; more fun than a barrel of monkeys; more in sorrow than in anger; more often than not; more sinned against than sinning; more than meets the eye; more than one bargained for; more than one can shake a stick at; more than one way to skin a cat; none other than; no sooner said than done; other than; quicker than you can say Jack Robinson; wear another (more than one) hat.