Then or Than?
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Hi there. My name is Emma, and today we have a very good video... A very great video, actually,
on the difference between "then" and "than". So this is a very, very common mistake a lot
of people, both native speakers and ESL students make.
So before I begin, I'd just like to thank Milly45 for recommending this video idea,
as well as my sister who is constantly making this mistake. She makes this mistake in business
emails, she makes it on all sorts of very important documents, and she's constantly
told by her boss or other people: "This is a bad mistake to make." So this is also for
my sister. I hope she watches this, because maybe she won't make these mistakes in the
future. Okay, so let's get started.
First of all, I'd like to talk about the pronunciation, the difference in pronunciation between "then"
and "than". Okay? So, "then" sounds like "Ken". You know Ken and Barbie? Ken, it rhymes with
Ken, "then". "Than" is more like "can". So, "can/than", "Ken/then". So there is a slight
difference in pronunciation; although oftentimes when people speak fast, they might actually...
You may just hear "then" for both cases. When somebody actually says: "than", you may hear
"then". So, pronunciation-wise, these two are often pronounced as "then".
Okay, so now let's look at some questions, and I want you to see where you currently
are in terms of "then" versus "than". How confident are you that you know the difference
between these words?
So our first example: "She is bigger then me." Do you think this sentence is correct?
Did we use "then" correctly?
If you said no, you are correct. This should be "than".
Number two: "I will come than." What do you guys think?
This is also incorrect.
"I ate dinner, and then I cleaned up." What do you think?
This one, correct. And I'll go over the explanations in a second, but bear with me.
"I have more money than my sister." Okay? Do you think this is correct?
Yes. Although I don't have more money than my sister, so that part's incorrect.
And number five: "Back than, I took the bus." What do you think?
This one's also incorrect.
So, if you have made many mistakes or there are some of these that have confused you,
this video will really help to help you to learn the difference between "then" and "than".
Okay, so we're starting with "then", with an "e". Okay? So, what can I tell you about
"then"? First of all, "then" usually comes at the beginning or the end of a sentence.
Not always, but often. Okay? So that's one hint. "Than" doesn't come at the beginning
of a sentence. Another thing I can tell you is that "then" has to do with sequence. So,
sequence means the order; first, then, finally. You often learn that when you learn English
in beginner classes. First I did this, then I did that, next I did this, finally I did
that. Okay? So that's sequence. "Then" also has to do with time. Okay? So, I will be there
then. I'm going to the store, then I will go visit your house. I will be there at 5:00.
I will be there then. So it has to do with time.
So let's look at some example sentences. "First I rented the movies. Then I watched all three
LOTRs back to back." So that's a very, very long time to spend on Lord of the Rings, and
I did do that. So notice the sequence, though. We have first, first action; next action,
"then". "Then I watched all three LOTRs back to back." Okay.
Sentence number two: "We didn't have the Internet back then." Okay? So this is also common to
say, "back then", when you're looking at today versus the past, we often call the past
"back then". Today we have Facebook. When I was in junior high,
we didn't have Facebook back then.
Okay. So, again, this has to do with time.
Okay, here's another common expression with "then": "Every now and then,".
So, "every now and then" means sometimes. "Every now and then, I look at my photo album."
So sometimes I get this urge to look at my photo albums. "Every now and then, I eat ice cream cake."
It doesn't happen all the time. It happens once in a while. So I guess you could say:
"Every now and then," very similar to: "Every once in a while," okay. So, again, "then",
think sequence and think time.
So let's look at "than". So remember: "than/can", "than/Jan", is not "then". "Than", with an
"a". So, when do we use "than"? We use it when we're comparing things. Okay? So when
we want to compare one thing to another thing, this is when we use "than". So what are comparatives?
Well, often we may talk about more than. "I have more friends than you." I'm not saying
that's true. That's probably a horrible sentence, but that's just an example of "more than".
I could also say: "I have less friends than you." Good possibility. We also have... If
we have some sort of adjective, plus "er": "I am richer than you.", "I am poorer than you.",
"I am smarter than some people." So this is just "er" examples. Okay? Also, we
use "than" with "rather". "I would like to go shopping rather than go bowling." For example.
Okay, so let's look at some example comparison sentences. Number one:
"Wolverine is better than Cyclops." This is something I feel confident about. "Wolverine is better than Cyclops."
Okay? And notice: "t-h-a-n".
Sentence number two: "It cost more money than I thought." So this happens a lot when you
go shopping, you buy something, you didn't really look at the price. "Oh, it cost more
money than I thought." So, again, if you see the word "more", if you see the word "less",
if you see something "er", or "rather", these are clues that it's going to be "than". Okay,
so let's do some practice sentences together.
Okay, so we're going to go over the sentences together, and I want you to try to fill in
the blank with "then" or "than". Okay?
So, sentence number one:
"I went to the store to buy milk __________ I realized I forgot my wallet at home."
So do you think this sounds better as: "then
I realized I forgot my wallet at home", or: "than I realized I forgot my wallet at home"?
Okay? If you said: "then", you're correct, because this is a sequence. First action,
"then" is the second action.
Number two: "Every now and __________, I buy Smarties."
Okay? So, what do you think it is? Do you think it's: "then" or "than"?
"Every now and then,"-again, with an "e"-"I buy Smarties."
Number three: "Abdul is funnier __________ Frank.
Abdul is funnier __________ Frank." Which one do you think it is?
"Abdul is funnier than Frank." So, in this case, our clue is the "er", we're comparing things. We're comparing
Abdul to Frank, so we know it must be "than".
Number four: "Vegetables are more expensive in the Yukon __________ Toronto."
So, the Yukon is the northern part of Canada.
So, "Vegetables are more expensive in the Yukon __________ Toronto." What do you think?
"than". So how do I know it was "than"? Well, we're comparing the Yukon to Toronto, and
we have this clue, I see the word "more", and right off the bat, I think: "Okay, more
than." Any time I see "more", it's going to be some sort of comparison. So, in this case,
"than" is correct. Okay.
So, if you're interested in practicing "than" and "then" some more, I invite you to come
visit our site at www.engvid.com. Until next time.