Contemporary essays, fiction, and opinion offered regularly by author Anne Brandt.

Question for the week
I am curious: is it proper usage of grammar to use these words together : Fairly quickly ex: We responded to the fire call fairly quickly.
Rules of the Games
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Ana, a graduate TESOL student, asks...
how would you teach or explain the difference between "then" and "than" to an ESL student?
Anne answers...
I can understand how "then" and "than" can be confusing, because they sound so much alike. However, "then" usually refers to a time frame. For instance, you say, "I ate at the restaurant; then I went home." Or "First the sun shone, but then it rained." In each instance, we have a sequence in time where the second event is introduced by the word "then." "Than," on the other hand, is usually used in comparing two things. Examples: I am taller than my brother. Your cookie is larger than mine. It was more than I wanted, but less than I expected. So to recap, "then" is about two things with one happening before the other. "Than" is also about two things, but we are comparing them at the same time.
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