Search Bunsnip.com

bunsnip (at) gmail (dot com)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If you're fuzzy on the whole then/than thing

Just remember:

  • Than is for comparisons
    • I am taller than you.
    • I like beans more than broccoli.


  • Then is temporal or conditional
    • Temporal: a sequence of events
      • First we went to the mall, then we got lunch.
    • Conditional: the old if...then construction
      • If you find that the defendant violated the statute, then you must find the defendant negligent.

As you can see, these similar-looking words are distinct from one another in use. All you need to remember, if you are not one who enjoys analyzing grammar, is that than is for comparisons and then is for everything else.


Does this make more sense than before? Good, then.

13 comments:

sov said...

Ran across this just today:

http://thingsthatmakeussic.com/

heidikins said...

Thank you! Please bless I don't have to break out my sharpie anymore to fix this problem!

xox

Sra said...

Oh man, that book looks awesome! I had an idea to write a grammar book that was fun, funny, and accessible to non-grammar nerds, but it looks like she beat me to it. Shucks! Great title, too.

Amy said...

One of my favorite bloggers misuses than and then on a regular basis. I try not to, but it bugs me a little.

I am not without fault, however. I get so confused regarding effect and affect. Wanna go over those rules next?

B.R. said...

Genau! I liked this plenty. Thanks.

Few things vex my ears more.
Ah, also this 'folk etymology' trend in such nonsense structures as 'must have went,' or 'should have spoke.' What happened to past participials? They're such lovely words....

Ben Sloan said...

I hate this too. I am ashamed to say, however, that occasionally, in the heat of composition, I write the wrong one. It isn't born out of ignorance; I recognize it instantly when reading. It stands out and is annoying. But on first drafts I often leave out whole words. I'm semiretarded.

Sra said...

Affect/effect is a tricky one indeed. I'll get to it next. Thanks for the request.

Yes, the use of simple past in past participle construction is vexing. A certain someone of mine, whose name shall be withheld, because I have to live with him, is a frequent offender of this one, but I'm trying to train him and meeting with some success :)

Right, and I want to remind everyone that by posting these grammatical discussions, I am not condemning your soul for making mistakes. There is a difference between a mistake and ignorance. I just want to go after the ignorance. I've mixed up my then/thans too, as well as almost all other English homonyms (which, by the way, is a word I can no longer spell on my own) at one time or another.

But grammar is fun, so I like to talk about it. And sometimes I do so in rant form, though this one is pretty neutral.

Erin said...

My biggest grammar conundrum is commas on a compound sentence where the subject of both clauses is the same.

You work hard and you play hard.

You work hard, and you play hard.

When I was an English teacher, my coworker and I stayed up until 1 a.m. looking for an answer, and there appeared to be no agreement in the grammar manuals. Some said no comma, and some said comma.

Or: Some said no comma and some said comma.

(Well, technically, the subject word, "some," is repeated. But "some" obviously refers to separate actors in the two clauses. So, with no other guidelines to work by, I'd have to tip toward writing that as a normal compound sentence, comma and all.)

Sra said...

Well, personally, I think your comma example is one in which you could either opt for the comma or not, and you'd be right either way. Maybe that's why you are finding conflicting sources.

Sra said...

Well, personally, I think your comma example is one in which you could either opt for the comma or not, and you'd be right either way. Maybe that's why you are finding conflicting sources.

Erin said...

My biggest grammar conundrum is commas on a compound sentence where the subject of both clauses is the same.

You work hard and you play hard.

You work hard, and you play hard.

When I was an English teacher, my coworker and I stayed up until 1 a.m. looking for an answer, and there appeared to be no agreement in the grammar manuals. Some said no comma, and some said comma.

Or: Some said no comma and some said comma.

(Well, technically, the subject word, "some," is repeated. But "some" obviously refers to separate actors in the two clauses. So, with no other guidelines to work by, I'd have to tip toward writing that as a normal compound sentence, comma and all.)

B.R. said...

Genau! I liked this plenty. Thanks.

Few things vex my ears more.
Ah, also this 'folk etymology' trend in such nonsense structures as 'must have went,' or 'should have spoke.' What happened to past participials? They're such lovely words....

heidikins said...

Thank you! Please bless I don't have to break out my sharpie anymore to fix this problem!

xox

Post a Comment