“Then” or “and Then”? What Is the Difference?

Should you use “then” or “and then” when combining two independent sentences? If both sound okay to you then you’re not alone. Many people use “then” and “and then” interchangeably and can not differentiate between them. But most authorities on English grammar consider “and then” to be grammatically correct instead of “then.” Read on to find out more!

“Then” or “and then”: what’s the difference?

English grammar rules are known to be complex and difficult to understand. We often use words or phrases in daily conversation in a certain way we think is correct, only to find out the usage is grammatically incorrect.

A great example that illustrates our dilemma is deciding whether to use “then” or “and then” when joining two independent clauses. You might think the two phrases are pretty much the same and that the “and” doesn’t make a difference.

But that is not the case. One of these two phrases is thought to break a fundamental rule of English grammar and can not be used in sentences.

Which among the two is correct?

So, which of the two is correct? It turns out that simply using “then” to join two independent clauses is considered grammatically incorrect by many authorities and “and then” should be used instead.

The reason authorities on English grammar consider joining two independent sentences with “, then” incorrect is because “then” is not a conjunction. Conjunctions are words such as “and” or “but” that are used to join two independent clauses.

Here is an example in which the usage of “then” is wrong according to this rule:

“I’ll go back home, then I’ll leave for the airport.”

Some people claim “then” can be used as a substitute for the word “next” when combining two independent clauses. Below is an example.

“Take a large bowl, then add the spices and seasonings.”

We recommend sticking to “and then” in most contexts as it is considered correct by most authorities.

Learn more about the comma splice here

Examples of “and then” in sentences

Here are a few examples of the phrase “and then” to give you an idea of how it is used in sentences.

“I turned off the lights after gathering my belongings, and then shut the door.”

“I’ll try to reach home as soon as possible, and then I’ll call you.”

“He waited for the car to stop, and then pulled open the door and got in.”

“The car veered off course, crashing into a parked truck, and then burst into flames.”