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






Question for the week
Is there anything wrong with the following phrase? "It cost less to reuse boxes than to buy new ones."
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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