Definition of than in English:

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Pronunciation: /ðan/
Pronunciation: /ð(ə)n/

conjunction& preposition

1Introducing the second element in a comparison: [as preposition]: he was much smaller than his son Jack doesn’t know any more than I do
More example sentences
  • Our council tax is much higher than in larger towns if you compare the size of house.
  • The third was believed to be younger than the first two and was wearing dark clothing.
  • There is no easier way to change the look of a home than to put on a fresh coat of paint.
2Used in expressions introducing an exception or contrast: [as preposition]: he claims not to own anything other than his home [as conjunction]: they observe rather than act
More example sentences
  • They just seem to do what they are told rather than have their own personal opinion.
  • In other words, religion is seen more as part of the solution than part of the problem.
  • Mr Miliband would say no more than that the final decision would be left to the council.
3 [conjunction] Used in expressions indicating one thing happening immediately after another: scarcely was the work completed than it was abandoned
More example sentences
  • But no sooner had Bryansford raced into that lead, than the champions got back into their familiar routine.
  • No sooner was he seated than Lily sidled closer to him.
  • Hardly had I driven the car down the road than it attracted waves and nods of affirmation from pedestrians and drivers alike.


Traditional grammar holds that personal pronouns following than should be in the subjective rather than the objective case: he is smaller than she rather than he is smaller than her. This is based on an analysis of than by which than is a conjunction and the personal pronoun (‘she’) is standing in for a full clause: he is smaller than she is. However, it is arguable that than in this context is not a conjunction but a preposition, similar grammatically to words like with, between, or for. In this case the personal pronoun is objective: he is smaller than her is standard in just the same way as, for example, I work with her is standard (not I work with she). Whatever the grammatical analysis, the evidence confirms that sentences like he is smaller than she are uncommon in modern English and only ever found in formal contexts. Uses such as he is smaller than her, on the other hand, are almost universally accepted. For more explanation see personal pronoun (usage) and between.


Old English than(ne), thon(ne), thænne, originally the same word as then.

Words that rhyme with than

Aberfan, Adrianne, an, Anne, artisan, astrakhan, ban, began, Belmopan, bipartisan, bran, can, Cannes, Cézanne, Cheyenne, clan, courtesan, cran, dan, Dayan, Diane, divan, élan, Elan, fan, flan, foreran, Fran, Friedan, Gell-Mann, gran, Han, Hunan, Ivan, Jan, Japan, Jinan, Joanne, Kazan, Klan, Kordofan, Lacan, Lausanne, Leanne, Limousin, Louvain, man, Mann, Marianne, Milan, Moran, nan, Oran, outran, outspan, Pan, panne, parmesan, partisan, pavane, pecan, Pétain, plan, Pusan, ran, rataplan, rattan, Rosanne, Sagan, Saipan, saran, scan, scran, sedan, span, spick-and-span, Spokane, Suzanne, Tainan, tan, tisane, trepan, van, vin, Wuhan, Xian, Yerevan, Yunnan, Zhongshan

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