This question Are constructions like "That's me out, then" primarily British rather than American? is more about "that's"

This question's answers When a person replies with a sentence starting with "then"/"than", should it be then or than? are very close, but the "then" is almost a conjunction there, not an offhand interjection

Related, the "yes", "right", "no", "ja", and "okay" in

  • The one around the corner, yes?
  • And we'll meet again on Tuesday, right?
  • We don't want to be too hasty, no?
  • We've covered this topic before, ja?
  • So we will only stay a little while, okay?

do not read like classic question-tags as they do not use a form of "to be". They might confirmatory or leading

This is not in the form of a question, but it feels the same to me

  • We'll see you at the party, then

Even when the sentence has a question mark, sometimes it's not really asking (allofunctional implicature); I just want to know what that last word is called and if it should ever be "than"


  • 3
    In your examples, "then" amounts to based on that, therefore, or thus, and not an interjection. Restrict "than" to comparisons. Mar 24, 2021 at 23:38
  • 1
    Right. Than occurs strictly with comparative constructions (generally with more or -er). Feb 26 at 21:13
  • No idea why it would be "than". I can't see any implied comparison or anything. Is it just that you misheard it as "than" once, or someone mis-wrote? Why isn't it "thin" or "thon"?
    – Stuart F
    Sep 5 at 9:08
  • In discourse analysis, "then" at the end like that would be anaphoric. It refers to what another speaker has said.
    – Lambie
    Sep 6 at 16:36
  • 'Then' has a bleached pragmatic role, as seen in "Right; I'd better be off, then." It's a hedged form of "So, moving on ...", a polite way to signal that you consider it's time to leave the conversation. / In contrast, "You have to be at the dentist's at eleven? You'd better get moving, then" uses the 'that being the case' sense. / "We'll see you at the party, then" could be either usage; context will disambiguate. With the proper intonation, it could even be a declarative question, again with 'then' in either role (the conversation-end-marker becoming a conversation-v-near-the-end marker). Sep 6 at 16:36

2 Answers 2


TFD defines "then" in this sense as "as a consequence; therefore." There's nothing particularly special about this usage of then; the comma is used to avoid violating the rules of adverb positioning, which are generally loosened when the adverb is prosodically detached as indicated by commas.

  • It's anaphoric, referring back to another speaker's speech.
    – Lambie
    Sep 6 at 16:36

MW defines "then" in this sense (adverb definition 3b) as "in that case". Their example is "take it, then, if you want it so much".

Definition 5 in TFD is "in that case; accordingly", which is similar.

This is easily seen as an extension of the meaning "at that time" (definition 1 in both TFD and MW), with "case" (= "set of circumstances or conditions", definition 1a in MW) instead of "time".

  • Please give citations and examples Sep 6 at 0:52
  • The downvote is possibly because alphabet gave this definition. // As I say in the comment, 'then' is also used as a pragmatic device, bleached of matrix-sentence–referential meaning, as a polite signing-off device. A sentence-initial 'Righto!' was once often used similarly. Oct 6 at 21:56

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