How to Use THAN and THEN (QUIZ and FREE Worksheet Download)

Than or Then

In 2006 I moved to Japan to study martial arts and I have been teaching English as a second language ever since. English has become an international language and I love helping people to communicate.

I often help my students with Confusing English questions, and my blog posts that help people to understand the difference between confusing vocabulary are popular. It seems like ESL students around the world have similar questions.

This post will help you to use the words THAN and THEN correctly.

THAN is used as a preposition or a conjunction that is used with comparisons – I am shorter than my brother.
THEN is an adverb that is used to talk about a period of time – The city looked very different back then.
Or the order of events – Mix the flour and sugar, then add one cup of milk.


THAN meaning and example sentences

THAN ① – used to introduce the second part of a comparison

  • The book is usually better than the movie.

THAN ② – used for comparing amounts, numbers, distances, etc.

  • I waited more than 20 minutes for the bus.

Definitions from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Quickly learn Comparison adjectives (English grammar with Video)

THEN meaning and example sentences

THEN ① – used to refer to a particular time in the past or future

  • Japan had a large earthquake in 2011. I was living in Tokyo then
  • The song reminds me of high school. I was young and free then.

THEN ② – used to introduce the next item in a series of actions, events, instructions, etc.

  • Just let me finish what I’m doing then I’ll give you a hand.
  • Finish your homework and then you can watch 1 hour of TV before bed.

Definitions from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

THAN and THEN Pronunciation

THEN has an en sound like the words DEN, KEN, and WHEN. Pull the corners of your lips back and your mouth stays narrow.

  • “Japan had a big earthquake in March 2011. I was living in Tokyo then.”

THAN has an an sound like the words BAN, VAN, and CAN. Your mouth will be more open from top to bottom but not as wide. 

  • “My Apartment In Chiba is bigger than my apartment in Tokyo.”

THAN and THEN Idioms

7 Idioms and expressions with THAN
someone’s bark is worse than their bite – someone’s words are stronger than their actions
Don’t worry about Scott, his bark is worse than his bite.
better than nothing – It’s better to get a thing that is not exactly what you wanted than to get nothing at all.
I won a pair of winter gloves in the school raffle. I was hoping to win the ski trip, but gloves are better than nothing
eyes were bigger than one’s stomach – A person has taken or ordered more food than they can eat.
This giant sandwich looked great on the menu but there’s no way I can finish everything. My eyes were bigger than my stomach.
Easier said than done – Something is easier to talk about than to actually do or perform.
It’s important to vaccinate everyone in the country but that is much easier said than done.
Better to be safe than sorry – You should take action or a precaution to prevent an unpleasant situation from happening in the future even though it seems unlikely.
You should throw an umbrella in your bag in case it rains tonight. Better to be safe than sorry.
Blood is thicker than water – Family relationships are the most important 
Ryan chose to help his brother move rather than go to his friend’s birthday party. Blood is thicker than water.
Truth is stranger than fiction – This expression is often used when you hear news that is hard to believe.
I read a story today about a cat that was raising a baby pig like its own kitten. That’s crazy! Truth is stranger than fiction
3 Idioms and expressions with THEN
Every now and then – From time to time or occasionally
I don’t often drink but I’ll have a glass of wine every now and then.
There and then – Immediately
After reading the book I decided then and there to visit Spain.
And then some – Even more than has been already mentioned
I have 20 years of teaching experience, a friendly personality, lots of energy and then some. I would be perfect for this job. 

All idiom ideas from


Quiz Printable Worksheet

Download the Google Quiz as a PDF printable worksheet. Great for ESL teachers to use in class.

Than or Then Infographic

Than or Then infographic

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