1 of 2


ˈt͟han How to pronounce than (audio)
used as a function word to indicate the second member or the member taken as the point of departure in a comparison expressive of inequality
used with comparative adjectives and comparative adverbs
older than I am
easier said than done
used as a function word to indicate difference of kind, manner, or identity
used especially with some adjectives and adverbs that express diversity
anywhere else than at home
: rather than
usually used only after prefer, preferable, and preferably
: other than
: when sense 1b
used especially after scarcely and hardly


2 of 2


: in comparison with
you are older than me
Is than a conjunction or preposition?: Usage Guide

After 200 years of innocent if occasional use, the preposition than was called into question by 18th century grammarians. Some 200 years of elaborate reasoning have led to these present-day inconsistent conclusions: than whom is standard but clumsy

T. S. Eliot, than whom nobody could have been more insularly English Anthony Burgess

; than me may be acceptable in speech

a man no mightier than thyself or me William Shakespeare
why should a man be better than me because he's richer than me William Faulkner, in a talk to students

; than followed by a third-person objective pronoun (her, him, them) is usually frowned upon. Surveyed opinion tends to agree with these conclusions. Our evidence shows that than is used as a conjunction more commonly than as a preposition, that than whom is chiefly limited to writing, and that me is more common after the preposition than the third-person objective pronouns. In short, you can use than either as a conjunction or as a preposition.

Word History



Middle English than, then then, than — more at then entry 1

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1560, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of than was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near than

Cite this Entry

“Than.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 conjunction
t͟hən How to pronounce than (audio)
: when compared to the way, extent, or degree in or to which
10 is less than 20
older than I am
easier said than done
: different from in kind, manner, or identity
adults other than parents


2 of 2 preposition
: in comparison with
you are taller than me

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