*Updated December 09 2014
So, previously this post stated something I thought was correct, but as I’ve discovered recently I was wrong. Yet again the written English language has fudged my bucket–as I like to say–by changing a rule for a special reason. Think of that i before e thing, it’s a rule that often doesn’t fit.
In the case of then and than, it doesn’t matter what it’s meaning is, you only use then at the end of a sentence. Also, it is considered poor grammar to do so since it’s ending a sentence in a preposition but any good writer knows dialogue does not always follow proper grammar rules. All in all, the examples below are modified for correctness and the only way to know if it should be then, as in a point in time, or than, as in “instead of,” is if a coma is used. If a comma is there you should “hear” than in your mind.
“Dinnertime is at eight.”
“At eight? I guess I’ll eat my chicken then.”
“We are having hamburgers for dinner.”
“I don’t like hamburgers. I guess I’ll eat my chicken, then.”
Well folks, there it is. Sorry for the previous mistake but I’m still learning, as we all are. Once again, the written English language screwed me but at least I’m strong enough to notice my mistakes. Sadly, now I need to fix them. lol!