Then/Than

It’s a disease. A hideous rash on the butt cheeks of our grammar. When did people begin to substitute the word ‘then’ for the word ‘than’? Eg: I’d rather go bowling then skating. No, bad example. Try again: I like Ben better then John. Or: He’s bigger then me.

No matter how I word it sounds like one thing is subordinate to the other but I’m certain the places where I read the misuse the sentences are meant to indicate a singular choice rather than an ordinal preference.
For those of you who do not know the difference and/or proper use of each word, I’ve posted these definitions from Dictionary.com:

then

[then] Show IPA ,

–adverb

1. at that time: Prices were lower then.
2. immediately or soon afterward: The rain stopped and then started again.
3. next in order of time: We ate, then we started home.
4. at the same time: At first the water seemed blue, then gray.
5. next in order of place: Standing beside Charlie is my uncle, then my cousin, then my brother.
6. in addition; besides; also: I love my job, and then it pays so well.
7. in that case; as a consequence; in those circumstances: If you’re sick, then you should stay in bed.
8. since that is so; as it appears; therefore: You have, then, found the mistake? You are leaving tonight then.
–adjective

9. being; being such; existing or being at the time indicated:the then prime minister.
–noun

10. that time: We have not been back since then. Till then, farewell.

11. but then, but on the other hand: I found their conversation very dull, but then I have different tastes.
12. then and there, at that precise time and place; at once; on the spot: I started to pack my things right then and there.Also, there and then.
Origin:
bef. 900; ME then(ne), than(n)e, OE thonne, thanne, thænne; cf.than; akin to that


8. See therefore.

than

[than, then; unstressed thuhn, uhn] Show IPA

–conjunction

1. (used, as after comparative adjectives and adverbs, to introduce the second member of an unequal comparison):She’s taller than I am.
2. (used after some adverbs and adjectives expressing choice or diversity, such as other, otherwise, else, anywhere, ordifferent, to introduce an alternative or denote a difference in kind, place, style, identity, etc.): I had no choice other than that. You won’t find such freedom anywhere else than in this country.
3. (used to introduce the rejected choice in expressions of preference): I’d rather walk than drive there.
4. except; other than: We had no choice than to return home.
5. when: We had barely arrived than we had to leave again.
–preposition

6. in relation to; by comparison with (usually fol. by a pronoun in the objective case): He is a person than whom I can imagine no one more courteous.
Origin:
bef. 900; ME, OE than(ne) than, then, when, var. (in special senses) of thonne then; c. G dann then, denn than, D dan then, than


Whether than is to be followed by the objective or subjective case of a pronoun is much discussed in usage guides. When, as a conjunction, than introduces a subordinate clause, the case of any pronouns following than is determined by their function in that clause: He is younger than I am. I like her better than I like him.When than is followed only by a pronoun or pronouns, with no verb expressed, the usual advice for determining the case is to form a clause mentally after than to see whether the pronoun would be a subject or an object. Thus, the sentences He was more upset than Iand She gave him more sympathy than I are to be understood, respectively, as He was more upset than I was and She gave him more sympathy than I gave him. In the second sentence, the use of the objective case after than (She gave him more sympathy than me) would produce a different meaning (She gave him more sympathy than she gave me). This method of determining the case of pronouns after than is generally employed in formal speech and writing.
Than occurs as a preposition in the old and well-established construction than whom: a musician than whom none is more expressive. In informal, especially uneducated, speech and writing,than is usually treated as a preposition and followed by the objective case of the pronoun: He is younger than me. She plays better poker than him, but you play even better than her. See alsobut 1 , different, me.

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About Blue Eagle Dreamer

Shamanic High Priestess and facilitator of empowerment and healing circles for girls and women, including a monthly Red Tent Temple. BA in English, minor in anthropology. Waldorf homeschool mom. Reiki master, cranial sacral therapist, herbalist, menstruvist, feminist, epicurian.
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