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Dumb question for the day.
English grammar: The use of then and than
ryan's mom
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ryan's mom
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Date: 9/24/12 2:57 PM

Quick question for you English majors or those very proficient with correct English grammar. My son created a Power Point presentation which included the sentence below:

"If you like dark books with supernatural elements, then this is the book for you."

His teacher corrected the use of the word "then" to "than". I don't think this is correct because than is used for comparing subjects and goes in between the two subjects you are comparing e.g. something is better or worse than the other thing

Then is used to express a time, it either means 'at that time' e.g. I was working in a bank then. Or it can mean 'next/afterwards' e.g. We'll go to the shop then we'll go home.

Can someone please tell me which is correct...then or than? I say then, his teacher says than, but I want to make sure because it doesn't seem right to me. She has a lot of work to correct and sometimes a slip up is made. I want to make sure his work is correct. I've googled this, and it seems the answer should be then.

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Big 4 Pattern size 12, RTW bottom: 6, RTW jacket 8, RTW top (no size fits me well!)
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kkkkaty
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In reply to ryan's mom <<
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Date: 9/24/12 3:29 PM

your son is correct....

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petro
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Date: 9/24/12 3:31 PM

Then. Than makes no sense.

kkkkaty
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Date: 9/24/12 3:34 PM

then is more oriented towards time; if something happens, then something else will happen.

than is used more for comparisons: I like chicken more than I like beef; or Red is different than blue

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jadamo00
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In reply to ryan's mom <<


Date: 9/24/12 3:46 PM

You kid is correct.

Is this for an English class?

j.

blue mooney
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blue mooney
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Date: 9/24/12 3:50 PM

Teacher is WRONG.

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--Robyn
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Vintage Joan
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In reply to ryan's mom <<


Date: 9/24/12 3:50 PM

Quote:
"If you like dark books with supernatural elements, then this is the book for you."

His teacher corrected the use of the word "then" to "than".

I think I'm going to cry. Or scream. And then cry.

Merriam-Webster definition of than

The "then" your son used is just the second part of an everyday "If - then" statement. A very basic English construction, also used all the time in math/logic.

What was this teacher thinking?



-- Edited on 9/24/12 3:51 PM --

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rivergum
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Date: 9/24/12 3:55 PM

The teacher was wrong. The reason probably was that ''then'' was a conjunction introducing the main clause after a subclause with ''if'', not an adverb of time. She probably thought that if it was not an adverb, then it had to be ''than''. Not true. ''Than'' is only used for comparisons.

In your son's case it was an ''if...... then'' sub clause and main clause, expressing a condition.

Phew! I had to dig deep to remember some of the grammar terms, but the principle is rock solid.

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Changma
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Date: 9/24/12 4:12 PM

I am a teacher with an MS in TESOL...English as Second Language...I want to cringe when I hear about or see people who should know better do exactly what this teacher did...and you would be shocked at what I see every day. Informal language-fine; typos or innocent mistakes happen too. But a teacher should not be making that type of error when correcting a paper. And the best teachers are the ones, who, when corrected, admit they were wrong...especially to the student.

Sorry this is so long...this is a pet peeve of mine.

Edited to add: The dumb questions are the ones you wanted to ask but didn't.
-- Edited on 9/24/12 4:15 PM --

Miss Fairchild
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Date: 9/24/12 4:55 PM

Former college level English teacher here.. "Then" references an act in the future: "She left her sewing machine open, then the cat ate the cord." It also correlates to an If/Then statement: "If you don't eat your dinner, then you won't be able to watch TV"

"Than" shows a correlation: "She left her sewing machine open, and the cat, rather than having a meal, ate the cord. "

Two entirely different forms of speech. Your son is right; the teacher is an embarrassment.

------
"Play the cards you are dealt, but choose who is sitting at the table"..AARP magazine

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