Word Confusion: Using “Then” & “Than” Correctly

Q: Dear Copy Bitch: I always misuse “then” and “than.” Do you have any tips for using these correctly?

A: I learned a great tip a couple of years ago from a writing magazine (I don’t remember which one, which is why I’m not naming names). Think of it like this: than has to do with comparisons. Then has to do with time. There’s an “a” in comparisons as there is in than. There’s an “e” in time as there is in then.


  • I think George Clooney is hotter than Brad Pitt. (comparing George to Brad)
  • First, I’m going to eat ice cream, and then I’ll work out. (giving the timing of my eating and exercising)