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Than

Than

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Conjunction – Than


Hello! In this lesson we will learn to use a word that is usually used as a conjunction. As we have learned in previous lessons, a conjunction is used to join words, phrases, and clauses.

The conjunction "than" is used to compare one person, place, thing, or idea to another person, place, thing, or idea.

We used the conjunction "than" when we learned how to use comparative adjectives. In that case, we made sentences like "David is taller than Jennifer." and "I am taller than you.". In this lesson, we will expand our understanding and use of the conjunction "than".

In addition to its common use in comparisons with comparative adjectives and adverbs, the conjunction "than" can also be used to introduce an alternative, still a comparison.

For example, "The international visitors will not find a better place to visit than our city.".

We also use the conjunction "than" to help us compare longer phrases, such as "I would rather walk to the museum than go there by bus.". We might make the comparison clearer by saying "I would rather walk to the museum than go to the museum by bus." In this sentence, the rejected alternative in introduced by the conjunction "than".

Now that we understand the meaning of the conjunction "than", let us listen to a dialog. In this dialog, David and Jennifer are discussing going to the airport to pick up some visitors. Mrs. Smith is also going to the airport to pick people up.

Jennifer:  I would rather go with Mrs. Smith than go in our car.

David:  There will be more room in her car than in our car.

Jennifer:  I know. Our car will have more luggage than her car will have.

David:  And her car is larger than our car.

Jennifer:  And she is driving fewer people than you are.

David: But I drive faster than she does.

Jennifer:  So we will get home later than you do.

Now that you have heard the dialog, let us look at the sentences.

Jennifer starts the conversation by saying "I would rather go with Mrs. Smith than go in our car.". We notice that Jennifer is comparing "go with Mrs. Smith" to "go in our car". She introduces the less favorite option with the conjunction "than".

David responds "There will be more room in her car than in our car.". David's full thought is abbreviated in this sentence. His two complete sentences would have been "There will be room in her car." and "There will be room in our car." A full comparison would be "There will be more room in her car than there will be room in our car.". However, since the phrase "There will be room" is repeated in both sentences, David can assume that Jennifer can understand him when he says "There will be more room in her car than in our car.".

Jennifer replies "I know.  Our car will have more luggage than her car will have.".Jennifer is comparing the amount of luggage each car will have. Although Jennifer is planning to go in Mrs. Smith's car, she still refers to her and David's car as "our car".

David answers "And her car is larger than our car.". This is an example of the familiar use of the conjunction "than", the same usage we learned in an earlier lesson. It is similar to "David is taller than Jennifer.".

Jennifer answers "And she is driving fewer people than you are.". In this sentence, Jennifer is comparing the number of people that Mrs. Smith and David will be driving in their respective cars.

David replies "But I drive faster than she does.". In this case, David uses the comparative adverb "faster". He is comparing how fast he drives with how fast Mrs. Smith drives. He might also have said "But I drive faster than she drives.".

Jennifer finally says "So we will get home later than you do.". In this sentence, Jennifer uses the comparative adverb "later". She is comparing how late she and Mrs. Smith will get home compared to how late David will get home with the guests. She might also have said "So we will get home later than you get home." or "So you will get home earlier than we do." or So you will get home earlier than we get home.".

Now that we have examined the varying uses of the conjunction "than", let us listen to the dialog again. Listen for the conjunction "than" and how it is used.

Jennifer:  I would rather go with Mrs. Smith than go in our car.

David:  There will be more room in her car than in our car.

Jennifer:  I know. We will have more luggage than she will have.

David:  And her car is larger than our car.

Jennifer:  And she is driving fewer people than you are.

David: But I drive faster than she does.

Jennifer:  So we will get home later than you do.

Excellent! You have learned how to use the conjunction "than" to make comparisons. Your English is becoming richer and more sophisticated. Use your new knowledge when you speak English.