? asked in Social SciencePsychology · 10 years ago

Why do otherwise intelligent people make the mistake...?

of misusing these words? 'then' and 'than'. And while I'm at it, let's add two more words. 'lose' and 'loose'. Then and than are easy to confuse, but lose and loose should be readily apparent. I've even seen the mistakes in newspapers, on news websites, and just about everywhere. It's almost an epidemic.


# noun: that time; that moment.

# adverb: subsequently or soon afterward.

# adverb: at that time.

# adverb: in that case or as a consequence.


than: CORE MEANING: used after a comparative adjective or adverb in order to introduce the second element of a comparison.

And the other two...

lose: verb: allow to go out of sight

# verb: miss from one's possessions; lose sight of.


loose: verb: make loose or looser.

I've seen people mention that they need to loose weight, or that someone they know is a looser. This is ridiculous. What ever happened to the importance of spelling in the US education system? I think too many people rely on their spell chec

6 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You want to talk about English pet peeves? Fine. I hope you've braced yourself.

    Let's start with there. Or their. Or, to make things really interesting, they're. These are three very different words that are not - I repeat, are NOT - interchangeable. This is not a negotiable rule!

    And then there's two. This one is usually used correctly. Alas, to and too are not. "This is just to irritating."

    One of my other favorites is alot. It could conceivably be a misspelling of allot, but usually it just belongs to someone who forgot to use his or her space bar.

    But the grand prize winner lately isn't precisely a word issue. It's the apostrophe. Its and it's are too different words. Whose and who's are also to very different words. I shouldn't complain about this two loud since I've been known too type quickly and screw up, but their's a difference between making a mistake and mispunctuating because you really don't no the difference. And it bugs me. Alot. They're just isn't an excuse.

    Now. Everyone who wanted to scream by the time they got to the end of that paragraph, raise your hands. Try not to let it get to you, though; it's not worth loosing your mind over.

    (I'm such a troublemaker.)

  • 10 years ago

    Absolutely and a lot more mistakes occur about simple words that are misspelled. Even simpler words than the ones you mentioned.. . We are living in a time where folks spend a lot of time on the computer and even typing words is not as intellectually challenging as writing them down in pencil or with a pen...

    An IQ test is all about ''managing to find out how things work and it has a lot to do with logical thinking so a person can have a relatively high IQ above 100 and still make spelling mistakes, because sadly nowadays a lot of people don't read books a lot anymore so they make more spelling mistakes.. they prefer the internet, Tv or listening to an audio tape rather than reading which helps a lot with good spelling and to avoid making the mistakes you mentioned..

    My husband is a perfect example.. He has an IQ of 142 and his mother tongue is English, yet he makes spelling mistakes and he is not that good with general knowledge questions and I have an IQ of 100 and English is my second language but I love to read that makes a lot of difference, that people should read more books .. then they would not make the mistakes some make, because some are really silly mistakes about the most simple words...

    IQ is not judged by spelling, so a person can get a high IQ and still have problems spelling.. Logical thinking is asked for in IQ tests but not spelling.. Reading more would remedy the shortcomings. x

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    I have done the lose/loose thing several times and caught myself after-the-fact. It is a typo that I don’t catch. An extra o usually does alert the spell checker if it’s not making a word. I just tend to see some things after I hit the submit button.

    Even though I do this, it annoys me when I see this sort of thing in print where there should be another set of eyes checking to prevent just that sort of thing. I can’t say that’s the thing that bothers me most in print, though.

    I once saw a review article in my local paper. The review was slamming the latest Harry Potter book (#5 or 6 at the time) for poor writing. In the review --the one that was complaining about poor writing-- there were several sentence fragments. Argh!

    I think many people who make these mistakes do know the difference. They’re just not as careful as you’d like.



  • 10 years ago

    You’re so right (notice that I used the contraction of YOU ARE; NOT the possessive your.)

    What is wrong with us? Why do we insist on sounding like morons? Why, when this topic is raised to people say things like, "But you know what I mean. What difference does it make?"


    Here are a few of the other commonly misused words Americans seem to love:






    And some sayings that just drive me CRAZY!!!

    I could care less. (So you do care some?) The correct saying is I could not care less. That means you care SO LITTLE that you cannot possibly care any less.

    Thank you for pointing these things out... Every time I see them I loose my temper... LOL

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    The abysmal US education system, and the rise of the internet.

    I've seen letters to the editor written by teachers that were loaded, and I do mean loaded, with misspellings and grammatical errors. I used to pin them up on my bulletin board as a testament to how my tax money is being abused.

    Then there's the rise of whole language as a means of teaching kids to read. Kids learn one word at a time without seeing the connection between words of similar meaning or spelling. And spelling? lol! Is it even taught as a subject anymore?

    Now with the advent of the internet, you'd think that spelling and grammar would be at a premium and highly valued, since it is by the written word that all internet communication is done. Of course, all you have to do is look at any message board and see the results. It's actually painful to see how dumbed down the population has become - and I'm not even referring to the CONTENT!

    It's always been a sign of ignorance and embarrassment to be functionally illiterate. I really don't think it matters a whole lot anymore to folks who care more about posting on youtube or myspace than they do about their own sordid lack of education.

    It's all shallow as hell.

  • I tend to think it's down to education. At one time, teachers in all subjects would mark students down for bad spelling or punctuation. Less reliance on the written word and more on spoken language also seems to have had some effect. Many of these spelling errors are less obvious phonetically.

    A few more howlers that grate (are not great) with me:

    Bought/brought (I went to the shop and brought this!)

    Effect/affect (The changes effected me a lot)

    Brake/break (My car's breaks are shot)

    Raise/raze (They raised the building to the ground)


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