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?

  • Related
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 15:57
  • 1
    Good question, vague title. I would suggest something more specific like: "Is there a different meaning based on placement of when/then?"
    – Lynn
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 16:29
  • 2
    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. Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 17:08

3 Answers 3


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.


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


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

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