It shouldn’t bother me. Really. I shouldn’t let it send me over the top like it does. I should be able to just look the other way and get on with my day. I shouldn’t stew and consider and rehash. But it does. I do. And I’m a basket case.
Oh. Stop. Wait. You’re probably thinking, double fudge decadence. Or key lime swirly yum. Something in the overwhelming, delish department. Something that puts me in self-imposed rehab for a week. Something that puts dark baggy circles under my orbs and gasses up the entire intestinal track and adds five big ones to the mid-section.
I’m, of course, talking about the blatant mis-use of the words ‘then’ and ‘than.’ Puts me in a straight-jacket!
Then and than are so commonly misused that I suspect that more than mere carelessness is involved. I believe many people are either unaware they are two separate words, or if they are aware of the two, they have no idea which is which.
Then is a word that works with the concept of time!
Than is a word that works with comparisons. HellOOOOO.
Let’s go back to my mothers favorite phrase, “Oh for Pete’s sake, my eyebrows are as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.” OK, for the sake of this point lets say that one day they are even worse. They are not only as crooked, they are even more crooked. So they are more crooked than a dog’s hind leg. Now let’s say she is talking about a particular time frame. Let’s say in the year 2000 they were really, really misaligned. Really the worse they have ever been. Perhaps she might have said of that day [recalling it on say, Thanksgiving Day, 2004] “Remember that simply awful day. My eyebrows were more crooked than a dog’s hind leg back then.”
An easy way to remember is then rhymes with when. See, it has to do with time. [When did you do it? Then is when I did it!]
OK. Enough said.
[Don’t get me started on ‘accept’ and ‘except!’]