Then and than, its and it’s, they’re, there and their… All of these variations on common words and their contractions cause untold amounts of confusion in writing. One variation that pops up repeatedly is the the difference between “then” and “than”.
“Then” is used to denote events that happen in a sequence of time:
– I corrected my boxing instructor’s grammar, then he punched me in the stomach.
– Back then, it wasn’t considered poor etiquette to punch your students in the stomach.
“Than” is used to compare a difference between two items:
– My boxing instructor’s punch is much more powerful than mine.
– My Mom gave me a bigger piece of cheesecake than she gave my brother.
In summary, you should use “then” whenever it is a time-related statement and “than” whenever it is a comparison statement.
For more hilarious grammar follies, visit The Oatmeal.com.