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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,

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on the difference between "then" and "than". So this is a very, very common mistake a lot

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of people, both native speakers and ESL students make.

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So before I begin, I'd just like to thank Milly45 for recommending this video idea,

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as well as my sister who is constantly making this mistake. She makes this mistake in business

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emails, she makes it on all sorts of very important documents, and she's constantly

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told by her boss or other people: "This is a bad mistake to make." So this is also for

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my sister. I hope she watches this, because maybe she won't make these mistakes in the

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future. Okay, so let's get started.

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First of all, I'd like to talk about the pronunciation, the difference in pronunciation between "then"

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and "than". Okay? So, "then" sounds like "Ken". You know Ken and Barbie? Ken, it rhymes with

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Ken, "then". "Than" is more like "can". So, "can/than", "Ken/then". So there is a slight

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difference in pronunciation; although oftentimes when people speak fast, they might actually...

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You may just hear "then" for both cases. When somebody actually says: "than", you may hear

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"then". So, pronunciation-wise, these two are often pronounced as "then".

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Okay, so now let's look at some questions, and I want you to see where you currently

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are in terms of "then" versus "than". How confident are you that you know the difference

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between these words?

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So our first example: "She is bigger then me." Do you think this sentence is correct?

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Did we use "then" correctly?

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If you said no, you are correct. This should be "than".

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Number two: "I will come than." What do you guys think?

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This is also incorrect.

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"I ate dinner, and then I cleaned up." What do you think?

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This one, correct. And I'll go over the explanations in a second, but bear with me.

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"I have more money than my sister." Okay? Do you think this is correct?

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Yes. Although I don't have more money than my sister, so that part's incorrect.

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And number five: "Back than, I took the bus." What do you think?

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This one's also incorrect.

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So, if you have made many mistakes or there are some of these that have confused you,

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this video will really help to help you to learn the difference between "then" and "than".

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Okay, so we're starting with "then", with an "e". Okay? So, what can I tell you about

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"then"? First of all, "then" usually comes at the beginning or the end of a sentence.

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Not always, but often. Okay? So that's one hint. "Than" doesn't come at the beginning

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of a sentence. Another thing I can tell you is that "then" has to do with sequence. So,

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sequence means the order; first, then, finally. You often learn that when you learn English

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in beginner classes. First I did this, then I did that, next I did this, finally I did

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that. Okay? So that's sequence. "Then" also has to do with time. Okay? So, I will be there

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then. I'm going to the store, then I will go visit your house. I will be there at 5:00.

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I will be there then. So it has to do with time.

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So let's look at some example sentences. "First I rented the movies. Then I watched all three

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LOTRs back to back." So that's a very, very long time to spend on Lord of the Rings, and

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I did do that. So notice the sequence, though. We have first, first action; next action,

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"then". "Then I watched all three LOTRs back to back." Okay.

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Sentence number two: "We didn't have the Internet back then." Okay? So this is also common to

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say, "back then", when you're looking at today versus the past, we often call the past

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"back then". Today we have Facebook. When I was in junior high,

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we didn't have Facebook back then.

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Okay. So, again, this has to do with time.

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Okay, here's another common expression with "then": "Every now and then,".

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So, "every now and then" means sometimes. "Every now and then, I look at my photo album."

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So sometimes I get this urge to look at my photo albums. "Every now and then, I eat ice cream cake."

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It doesn't happen all the time. It happens once in a while. So I guess you could say:

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"Every now and then," very similar to: "Every once in a while," okay. So, again, "then",

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think sequence and think time.

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So let's look at "than". So remember: "than/can", "than/Jan", is not "then". "Than", with an

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"a". So, when do we use "than"? We use it when we're comparing things. Okay? So when

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we want to compare one thing to another thing, this is when we use "than". So what are comparatives?

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Well, often we may talk about more than. "I have more friends than you." I'm not saying

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that's true. That's probably a horrible sentence, but that's just an example of "more than".

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I could also say: "I have less friends than you." Good possibility. We also have... If

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we have some sort of adjective, plus "er": "I am richer than you.", "I am poorer than you.",

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"I am smarter than some people." So this is just "er" examples. Okay? Also, we

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use "than" with "rather". "I would like to go shopping rather than go bowling." For example.

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Okay, so let's look at some example comparison sentences. Number one:

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"Wolverine is better than Cyclops." This is something I feel confident about. "Wolverine is better than Cyclops."

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Okay? And notice: "t-h-a-n".

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Sentence number two: "It cost more money than I thought." So this happens a lot when you

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go shopping, you buy something, you didn't really look at the price. "Oh, it cost more

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money than I thought." So, again, if you see the word "more", if you see the word "less",

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if you see something "er", or "rather", these are clues that it's going to be "than". Okay,

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so let's do some practice sentences together.

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Okay, so we're going to go over the sentences together, and I want you to try to fill in

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the blank with "then" or "than". Okay?

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So, sentence number one:

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"I went to the store to buy milk __________ I realized I forgot my wallet at home."

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So do you think this sounds better as: "then

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I realized I forgot my wallet at home", or: "than I realized I forgot my wallet at home"?

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Okay? If you said: "then", you're correct, because this is a sequence. First action,

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"then" is the second action.

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Number two: "Every now and __________, I buy Smarties."

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Okay? So, what do you think it is? Do you think it's: "then" or "than"?

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"Every now and then,"-again, with an "e"-"I buy Smarties."

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Number three: "Abdul is funnier __________ Frank.

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Abdul is funnier __________ Frank." Which one do you think it is?

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"Abdul is funnier than Frank." So, in this case, our clue is the "er", we're comparing things. We're comparing

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Abdul to Frank, so we know it must be "than".

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Number four: "Vegetables are more expensive in the Yukon __________ Toronto."

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So, the Yukon is the northern part of Canada.

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So, "Vegetables are more expensive in the Yukon __________ Toronto." What do you think?

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"than". So how do I know it was "than"? Well, we're comparing the Yukon to Toronto, and

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we have this clue, I see the word "more", and right off the bat, I think: "Okay, more

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than." Any time I see "more", it's going to be some sort of comparison. So, in this case,

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"than" is correct. Okay.

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So, if you're interested in practicing "than" and "then" some more, I invite you to come

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visit our site at www.engvid.com. Until next time.

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