Successful entrepreneurs know they can't possibly be good at everything! So if your grammar or spelling is less than perfect, rest assured that you're not alone! I'll post two or three grammar tips per week. I'd love to take special requests, so post your questions below!

Then and Than — That is the Question!

Using these two words incorrectly is a very common mistake. I find when I edit a client's work, I see repeat mistakes. People who create their own content usually have a handle on most grammatical standards. The problems are usually one or two mistakes that they make each time they write. It's no big deal. I don't have to know how to fix my car engine in order to drive! Usually the copy is compelling, and the stories are interesting. These elements are more important than perfect grammar. But if you're wanting to have near perfect copy without the help of an editor, then you will want to understand at least about your specific mistakes! So if you confuse the words "then" and "than," read on!

Understanding the Logic

Understanding the logic can help, but I'll also share some strategies that might be more helpful for people with different learning styles.

The word "then" refers to time and sequence. If the context refers to what comes next or simply when something happens, then you should use the word "then." Notice in the last sentence that I used "then" because I was explaining when you should use the word. I could easily replace "then" with the words "that is when." See below:

If the context refers to what comes next or simply when something happens, that is when you should use the word "then."

 The word "than" is used in comparisons. Use "than" when the context of your sentence has to do with comparing two or more things.



I love almond milk better than soy milk.

My dog is stronger than your dog.

I bet I'm shorter than you!

If I had limited space in my garden, I would prefer to grow edible flowers rather than flowers that can't be eaten.


I first heard the tragic news from my daughter, then I heard more details on the news.

First mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the milk.

I started to drive to your house, then I realized you were out of town.


For most people, it's best to turn the "editor" mode off when you write. That's the way I work. I write first, then I edit. I sometimes find errors in my writing on day two, so I keep checking. (Incidentally, if you happen to see something wrong once I publish this, do let me know! )

If you're writing effective copy on a regular basis, please don't change your process. Here are a couple of suggestions that might help you with this particular grammar fix:

  • After you write, use the find feature to find all of the instances of "then" and "than." Do them one at a time.
  • Keep this cheat sheet next to your computer: Then = time or sequence. Than = comparison.
  • You can also word your cheat sheet this way: Then — Does this tell me when something happens or should happen? Than — Does this compare two or more things? What does it compare?
  • Change as needed while you go through your article using the "find" feature.
  • Pronunciation. For a few days, pronounce the two words differently. Write or gather some sentences for each word. Recite the sentences out loud while looking at the words. This will combine the visual and auditory pathways. In some cases, this might serve to change your brain's perception of the two words to the point where you actually write the words correctly while in writing mode.

I'd love to know if this was helpful! Please let me know what other topics you need help with. Do you have any other strategies for determining when to use "then" and "than"? Do share them here!

And if you'd rather have an editor take care of this for you, contact me! I edit your content for grammar, spelling and SEO! I make headline and formatting suggestions too! See my Black Friday Special now!



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