9 out of 10 grammar fanatics will probably tell you that this is the most annoying grammatical mistake ever. There is no excuse for confusing “then” and “than”. Yes, the two words share three out of four letters in common, but that doesn’t mean you can use them interchangeably.
Than—only use when making comparisons between two things
It’s pretty easy to know when you’re using “than” correctly. If you’re comparing two things then you need to use “than.” If not, you’re using the wrong word. Here a few examples to illustrate.
Correct: I am taller than you.
Correct: You make more money than me.
Incorrect: I’m going home than cooking dinner.
Then—an adverb that relates to time
When you’re talking about an action taking place within a sequence of events, your go-to word is “then.” Another easy to remember if you’re using “then” correctly is to ask yourself “am I comparing two things?” If the answer is no, then you’re using “then” correctly.
Also, whenever you make an “if” statement, you will most likely always be using “then” to follow up. Here’s an example.
Correct: If it rains today, then I will stay home.
Correct: He fell asleep and then started snoring.
Incorrect: If I get good grades, than I’ll go to college.
The key thing to remember is whether or not you’re comparing two things. If you are, then you must use “than” with an “a.” In every other instance, you want to use “then.” There’s only a small difference between the two words, but they can make a world of difference in your writing.