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Don't shoot me for this, please! Hihi

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Old 01-23-2012, 02:40 PM   #1
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Question Don't shoot me for this, please! Hihi

Hi All!

I'm from the Netherlands, so English is not my native language. However, I've been around plenty of English chats and I studied English for a bit so I try and do well. One of the things we got drilled at REALLY hard when I was in highschool is something I see so many Americans/Native English people do wrong.

I get annoyed when people are being know-it-alls but this is just so surprising to me I don't get it. Maybe you folks can shed some light on it for me and explain why so many people seem to not pay attention to it.

It's about the use of THEN and THAN. The simple rule I was taught: when you are comparing something it's than, and when you are speaking of a moment in time it's then. Quite simple I'd think?

Why I am so amazed is this:
- At University I take classes in English and our professor made a test full of then/than mistakes.
- I read a Reuters press release today and they made a then/than mistake too.
- On these boards I see many people use "then" way more often than "than".

Please - can some one tell me if this is just because nobody in school ever stresses the difference? I just don't get it! Hihi.

Oh, and really.. I am not a know-it-all. I make plenty of mistakes. But this one seems so obvious to me! I've been wondering about it for months now.
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Old 01-23-2012, 02:49 PM   #2
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Well, you're right, of course.

It annoys me more when I see journalists or professional writers make these types of mistakes. It annoys me less when it's just regular people writing casually and making mistakes.

At the end of the day, life's too short to stress about it.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:18 PM   #3
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to an English speaking mind, I'd guess, the two are very similar. I still struggle with affect/effect.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:19 PM   #4
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Then there is lie and lay, or their or there, the list can go on and on.
I'm with midwife , don't waste ( or is it waist ) time worrying about it.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:24 PM   #5
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This is kind of funny. English is my native language and I am also in University (I've spent my entire life in an English country). Not even 2 months ago I learned the difference between than/then. Also, I got A's in all of my high school English classes. I think that people just tend to not pay attention to small details like that. I do get annoyed when adults do not know the difference between "there" and "their" though which I guess makes me slightly hypocritical.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
The simple rule I was taught: when you are comparing something it's than, and when you are speaking of a moment in time it's then. Quite simple I'd think?
Well, except there are other usages. If/Then statements, for example, don't fall neatly into being about a comparison or a moment in time. But I digress.

People, I think, are less careful with words/spelling when the meaning of what is being said will be clear regardless of the spelling. I cannot think of a single time that a then/than error has prevented me from comprehending what was said. And as long as I don't have problems comprehending what was said, I don't know why I'd care about someone's correctness or incorrectness.

Edited to add: I think a professor of English should be writing correctly, and Reuters has plenty of people who should be proofreading. It's more in casual/forum conversation that I don't think it matters much.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:32 PM   #7
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Things that drive me crazy are then/than, their/they're/there, and misspelling "separate" (but only when habitually wrong because mistakes happen) because these are things that were drilled into me in elementary school, but I don't believe that they're taught the same way now and often my "finger memory" when typing will use the wrong word and I won't catch it. Kind of like my fingers are typing on their own disconnected from my mind. My mind is often a bit disconnected

But it only bothers my OCD tendencies, I wouldn't insult anyone for using the wrong word because I make plenty of mistakes (DH points out that I mispronounce "quaint", but he mispronounces "chaos" so we're even)
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:44 PM   #8
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My least-favorite, to the point where DS12 will even deliberately push my buttons, is "taut" and "taunt". It's like nails on a blackboard!!!
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:50 PM   #9
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I find I use "then" and "than" incorrectly many times on accident because I'm not thinking enough as I type. I try to catch it when I can but sometimes I'm too lazy to proof read something informal such as a forum post or friendly email.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuchick View Post
and often my "finger memory" when typing will use the wrong word and I won't catch it. Kind of like my fingers are typing on their own disconnected from my mind. My mind is often a bit disconnected
Happens to me ALL THE TIME! Sometimes it's barely even close to the word I meant, like "though" instead of "that." I say my fingers have autocomplete.
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philana View Post
Hi All!

I'm from the Netherlands, so English is not my native language. However, I've been around plenty of English chats and I studied English for a bit so I try and do well. One of the things we got drilled at REALLY hard when I was in highschool is something I see so many Americans/Native English people do wrong.

I get annoyed when people are being know-it-alls but this is just so surprising to me I don't get it. Maybe you folks can shed some light on it for me and explain why so many people seem to not pay attention to it.

It's about the use of THEN and THAN. The simple rule I was taught: when you are comparing something it's than, and when you are speaking of a moment in time it's then. Quite simple I'd think?

Why I am so amazed is this:
- At University I take classes in English and our professor made a test full of then/than mistakes.
- I read a Reuters press release today and they made a then/than mistake too.
- On these boards I see many people use "then" way more often than "than".

Please - can some one tell me if this is just because nobody in school ever stresses the difference? I just don't get it! Hihi.

Oh, and really.. I am not a know-it-all. I make plenty of mistakes. But this one seems so obvious to me! I've been wondering about it for months now.
Well they DO teach you the difference.

Question is...do you remember it...or do you pay attention in class. LOL
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ICUwishing View Post
My least-favorite, to the point where DS12 will even deliberately push my buttons, is "taut" and "taunt". It's like nails on a blackboard!!!


ETA: I think I drive my kids crazy, too. I tell them all that if nothing else, they will know that "a lot" is TWO words! Or else!!!
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:27 PM   #12
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These things are some of what truly bothers me about the American school system. The truth of the matter is, American children are never taught the importance of proper grammar and sentence structure. I had one or two spectacular English teachers...but most only expect their students to scrape by. Americans are raised with the mindset that it is socially acceptable to have sloppy language and writing skills, and the school systems allow for it. So unfortunately, unless they are going into a profession which requires them to train these skills at a University level, most people will never learn them. And the basic mindset of many people is that it doesn't matter. I find that very disheartening.
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philana View Post
One of the things we got drilled at REALLY hard when I was in highschool is something I see so many Americans/Native English people do wrong.

It's about the use of THEN and THAN. The simple rule I was taught: when you are comparing something it's than, and when you are speaking of a moment in time it's then. Quite simple I'd think?
Maybe you did learn it because you were drilled, lol. Probably not something that gets as much attention in some US schools as it might in a second langauge class. I think the english language is full of these kind of things, as the others posters pointed out. I know I make my share of mistakes, lol. I think often we get lazy and just use whatever gets the point across. (I always think of it as THEN=next and THAN=more than)

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Old 01-23-2012, 05:47 PM   #14
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Don't expect it to get any better. I'm 28 and I cringe at those younger than I am. The texting generation is out in full force and they think it is perfectly acceptable to write in "text speak". Words like wut, ur, etc. I hate it. I'm not someone who is obsessed with proper grammar and spelling , but it really irritates me.
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:30 PM   #15
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There are many words I've seen here, and on other boards that are misspelled/misused. I was born in an English speaking country (not America) and I have a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language, though this is not my primary profession.
So misspellings do make me cringe, but it is momentary. Here, on this board, the two words I've noticed used incorrectly are "loose" and "lose."
However, I do agree that as long as the meaning is clear, that it is unimportant to this forum.
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