Since there are so many English words that are spelled the same or nearly the same, keeping track of all of them can be difficult.
Many writers confused the words then and than. For a detailed discussion of the differences between these words, review the Writing Explained article “Then vs. Than: What’s the Difference?”
Instead, this article will focus on the differences between the phrases more then and more than. If you have ever wondered whether you should be using more then or more than in your writing, continue reading.
What is the Difference Between More Than and More Then?
In this article, I will compare more than vs. more then. I will use each in a sentence, and then I will also give you a helpful trick to assist you in deciding whether you should be using more than or more then in your own writing.
When to Use More Than
What does more than mean? More than is a phrasal preposition, where it is equivalent to over when describing an amount that is greater than another. A phrasal preposition is two or more words that, together, function as a preposition.
Here are some examples:
- There are more than 20 brands of hot sauce at the grocery store.
- A full grown adult blue whale weighs more than 80 US tons.
- I was more than five minutes late to my shift on Monday, so I was only paid for 7.75 hours of work.
- The husband and wife team of Nick and Elyse Oleksak have a lot to celebrate. Starting Tuesday, their New York City bakery is bringing cream cheese-stuffed bagel balls to Starbucks’ more than 7,000 U.S. locations. –CNBC
Of course, over has other senses as well, which do not mean the same as more than. For instance, you would not say “the ball flew more than my head” instead of “the ball flew over my head.”
When to Use More Then
What does more then mean? More then is commonly misused as a phrasal preposition instead of more than. This usage is incorrect. It would require convoluted syntactical gymnastics to formulate a sentence where more then is appropriate.
Consider the following example:
- Melissa gazed longingly at the fruit salad, asked for more, then got it.
This sentence is grammatically correct, although it could benefit from being reworked to increase clarity.
As you can see, more then is not a single phrase in and of itself, even though the two words are placed next to each other in a sentence. Here, more refers to an amount of fruit salad. Separately, then situates an action in a sequence of events. The words are part of two different phrases, even though they are adjacent each other in the sentence.
Here is another example:
- Patchouli was worn more then than it is now.
This sentence is missing important pieces that keep it from being a properly constructed sentence.
In this example, more is an intensifier that is missing the adverb it is meant to modify. It requires another word, like frequently, heavily, or earnestly, to make sense. Then points to a time in the past, but it lacks specificity. It should be replaced with a more concrete phrase, like “40 years ago” or “in the 1970s.”
The sentence is much easier to read after these corrections:
- Patchouli was worn more earnestly in the 1970s than it is now.
Trick to Remember the Difference
Here is a helpful trick for you to remember more then vs. more than.
More than is a phrasal preposition. Use it when referring to an amount of something that is greater than another amount.
More then cannot be used as a phrasal preposition. It has no real uses in modern English. If you see the words more and then next to each other in your writing, consider rephrasing that sentence to increase clarity.
You can remember to use more than instead of more then since it is spelled with an A, which is also used to spell the word “appropriate.” You can use this trick to remember that more than is appropriate, while more then is not.
Is it more than or more then? In order to keep your writing error free, you should be careful not to mix these two spellings.
- More than is a phrasal preposition. It can be used as a substitute for over.
- More then is either a misspelling or a clue that you need to revise your sentence.
You can remember to always choose more than since it is spelled with an A, like the word “appropriate.”
If you still need help, you can refer back to this article for a quick refresher.