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Then and Than. Than WINS in better writing.

Posted by: | October 9, 2012 | No Comment |

I should warn all of you before you read any further: You may be deeply confused and angry by what you read here this morning.

I have been in an ongoing battle with the English vocabulary. There are two words in particular that I feel must be sorted out. Trust me, this is important for you all to understand as aspiring journalists. I may be taking some liberties in illustrating the difference, but that’s why I’m here.

How do you use Then and Than?

It’s simple right. Then is used to illustrate time, and than is often used to compare. Not quite. And here is where all of you loyal then-using-journalists may want to scroll down to the next story. Then is boring and should only be used to nail down an exact moment in history.

Example: I was handsome then.

But wait. How about, I was handsome than. Aren’t I comparing being handsome to not being handsome any longer. I use than, always. Let’s try an example of a sequence of events.

Example: I was in love, then I cheated on my girlfriend, then I fell into a depression and then I got over it.

Why do we use then here instead of than? Then is boring. The people who use then to explain themselves are only trying to pass the time. By using than, you introduce contrast and individuality, and you offer your audience the chance to understand the differences between, say, being in love, and falling into a depression.

The example would read more honestly.

Example: I was in love, than I made a huge mistake and cheated on my girlfriend with a girl that loved me obsessively, than I realized her love would ever be enough so I broke it off with her and fell into a depression that would last two years, and than suddenly I started to realize my own potential and I moved on.

You see, using than instead of then, as a writer, encourages you to explain yourself more thoughtfully, and it gives you an edge on every other writer hack who hasn’t figured out that sometimes you’ve just got to bend the rules, and that you can get away with it if it’s just.

Write a story, than go back and replace the thens.

under: Comm 455
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