than (thăn, thən)
1. Used after a comparative adjective or adverb to introduce the second element or clause of an unequal comparison: She is a better athlete than I.
2. Used to introduce the second element after certain words indicating difference: He draws quite differently than she does.
3. When. Used especially after hardly and scarcely: I had scarcely walked in the door than the commotion started.
prep. Usage Problem
In comparison or contrast with: could run faster than him; outclassed everyone other than her.
Usage Note: Since the 1700s, grammarians have insisted that than should be regarded as a conjunction in all its uses, so that a sentence such as Bill is taller than Tom should be construed as an elliptical version of the sentence Bill is taller than Tom is. According to this view, the case of a pronoun following than is determined by whether the pronoun serves as the subject or object of the verb that is "understood." Thus, the standard rule requires Pat is taller than I (not me) on the assumption that this sentence is elliptical for Pat is taller than I am. But the rule allows The news surprised Pat more than me, because this sentence is taken as elliptical for The news surprised Pat more than it surprised me. But this analysis is somewhat contrived. Than is quite commonly treated as a preposition when followed by an isolated noun phrase, and it often occurs with a pronoun in the objective case: John is taller than me. In such sentences using the nominative case (than I) can sound unnatural and even pretentious, and objecting to the objective case of the pronoun may sound pedantic. · In comparisons using than and as, the second element should be phrased to parallel the first, and faulty parallelism can arise especially when prepositional phrases are involved. In the sentence They felt that the condition of the new buildings was not much better than the old ones, the condition of the new buildings is compared with the old buildings themselves, not with their condition. The pronoun that must be added to balance the noun condition. The noun can be repeated instead, but in either case the prepositional phrase with of must follow: They felt that the condition of the new buildings was not much better than that (or than the condition) of the old ones. Similar parallelism should follow as: I want the photos in our brochure to look as impressive as those in their brochure (not I want the photos in our brochure to look as impressive as their brochure). · Than and as comparisons pose additional problems when the noun following than or as is the subject or object of an implied clause. Does the sentence The employees are more suspicious of the arbitrator than the owner mean that the employees distrust the arbitrator more than they distrust the owner or that the employees distrust the arbitrator more than the owner does? To clarify this, a verb must be added to the second element of the comparison: The employees are more suspicious of the arbitrator than they are of the owner or The employees are more suspicious of the arbitrator than the owner is. See Usage Note at as1.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
than (ðæn; unstressed ðən)
1. used to introduce the second element of a comparison, the first element of which expresses difference: shorter than you; couldn't do otherwise than love him; he swims faster than I run.
2. used after adverbs such as rather or sooner to introduce a rejected alternative in an expression of preference: rather than be imprisoned, I shall die.
3. other than besides; in addition to
[Old English thanne; related to Old Saxon, Old High German thanna; see then]
Usage: In formal English, than is usually regarded as a conjunction governing an unexpressed verb: he does it far better than I (do). The case of any pronoun therefore depends on whether it is the subject or object of the unexpressed verb: she likes him more than I (like him); she likes him more than (she likes) me. However in ordinary speech and writing than is usually treated as a preposition and is followed by the object form of a pronoun: my brother is younger than me
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
than (ðæn, ðɛn; unstressed ðən, ən)
1. (used after comparative adjectives and adverbs and certain other words, such as other, otherwise, else, etc., to introduce the second member of a comparison): She's taller than I am.
2. (used after some adverbs and adjectives expressing choice or diversity, such as other, otherwise, else, anywhere, different, etc., to introduce an alternative or denote a difference in kind, place, style, identity, etc.): I had no choice other than that.
3. when: We barely arrived than it was time to leave. prep.
4. in relation to; by comparison with: He is taller than his father.
[before 900; Middle English, Old English than(ne)
than, then, when, orig. variant of thonne then
is to be followed by the objective or subjective case of a pronoun is much discussed in usage guides. When, as a conjunction, than
introduces a subordinate clause, the case of any pronouns following than
is determined by their function in that clause: He is younger than I am. I like her better than I like him.
is followed only by a pronoun or pronouns, with no verb expressed, the usual advice for determining the case is to form a clause mentally after than
to see whether the pronoun would be a subject or an object. Thus, the sentences He was more upset than I
and She gave him more sympathy than I
are to be understood, respectively, as He was more upset than I was
and She gave him more sympathy than I gave him.
This method is generally employed in formal speech and writing. In informal speech and writing than
is usu. treated like a preposition and followed by the objective case of the pronoun: He is younger than me.
See also but1
, different, me.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
1. 'than' used with comparatives
Than is mainly used after comparative adjectives and adverbs.
I am happier than I have ever been.
They had to work harder than expected.
If you use a personal pronoun on its own after than, it must be an object pronoun such as me or him.
My brother is younger than me.
Lamin was shorter than her.
However, if the pronoun is the subject of a clause, you use a subject pronoun.
They knew my past much better than she did.
He's taller than I am.
2. 'than ever'
You can also use ever or ever before after than. For example, if you say that something is 'bigger than ever' or 'bigger than ever before', you are emphasizing that it has never been as big as it is now, although it has always been big.
Bill worked harder than ever.
He was now managing a bigger team than ever before.
Don't use 'than' when you are making comparisons using not as or not so. Don't say, for example, 'He is not as tall than his sister'. You say 'He is not as tall as his sister'.
3. 'more than'
You use more than to say that the number of people or things in a group is greater than a particular number.
We live in a city of more than a million people.
There are more than two hundred and fifty species of shark.
You can also use more than in front of some adjectives as a way of emphasizing them. For example, instead of saying 'If you can come, I shall be very pleased', you can say 'If you can come, I shall be more than pleased'. This is a fairly formal use.
I am more than satisfied with my achievements in Australia.
You would be more than welcome.
4. 'rather than'
You use rather than when you want to compare something that is the case with something that is not.
The company's offices are in London rather than in Nottingham.
She was angry rather than afraid.
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