Then and than – make sure you know the difference


I‘m going to point out a mistake that many language learners make. And it‘s not just language learners who get this wrong. Many people who speak English as their mother language often slip up when it comes to these two words: than (with an “a“) and then with an “e“). When you speak, there‘s not much difference between then and than. But there is when you write, so make sure you know the difference. 

This is what those two little words mean in German. As you‘ll see, they both mean completely different things. 

than = als

then = dann 

Here are some examples: 

  • Not being afraid of making mistakes is more important than perfect grammar. 

  • She won the first and then the second prize in the competition. 

  •  I‘m going to watch this English DVD, then I‘ll go to bed. 
Some people can learn more by reading books than from doing vocabulary exercises.

Here‘s a little exercise for you. Which is correct, then or than? 


  1.  There are less then / than four weeks to the trade fair, and 
then / than we have the AGM to prepare. 

  2. The Irishman went round the world, then / than he went to 
live in Japan. 

  3. The Japanese work longer hours then / than Europeans. 

  4. 4  Do you know how many people in the world live on less then / than $1 a day?
  5. Most language learners like reading newspaper articles more then / than doing exercises.
  6. First, I‘m going to check how much money I have in the bank. Then / Than if I have more then / than €1.000 to spare, I‘ll book a holiday.