English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Consider these two sentences:

  • When we go home, we can then watch a DVD
  • When we go home, then we can watch a DVD

Both mean the exact same thing, but do they differ in linguistic terms?

share|improve this question
Related – Robusto Jan 9 '12 at 15:57
Good question, vague title. I would suggest something more specific like: "Is there a different meaning based on placement of when/then?" – Lynn Jan 9 '12 at 16:29
Personally I feel "then" is effectively redundant in both sentences, for most feasible contexts. It seems to me the clause "When we go home" would more naturally come second, but if you do that it immediately becomes apparent the word "then" is worse than redundant - it's positively unwanted. – FumbleFingers Jan 9 '12 at 17:08

Little or nothing changes. It is a different word order, but there is no change in meaning, parts of speech, etc.

share|improve this answer

No linguistic difference in terms of construction. However, reading the sentences, the first feels more like the going home is a required step of watching the DVD whereas the second just feels like they're events that follow in time. They both result in the same sequence of events, but one indicates for a causal relationship rather than casual.

share|improve this answer

Or, "Son, when we go home, we can then watch a DVD" Vs. When we go home, then we can watch a DVD, boy"

share|improve this answer
Please do not answer the same question twice. Use the edit function if you want to add material. Also, please have a look at the site tour and visit the help center for guidance on how to use this site. – medica Dec 12 '14 at 3:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.