The Horns of a Dilemma

A229D0F7-A122-45A0-8B9A-EA4980863545Yesterday I read a very good, witty, and entertaining post from a blogger I follow. I so enjoyed the post that I “liked” it and I wanted to write a comment complimenting the blogger.

But I didn’t write that complimentary comment because throughout the otherwise excellent post, the blogger used the word “than” when the correct word would have been “then.”

The blogger would write something like “But than…” or “And than…” and proceed to say what happened next.

I so wanted to post a comment that said something like this:

I really enjoyed you post, but you need to understand the difference between “than” and “then” and use them correctly. “Than” is used to form comparisons between two things, as in “I’d rather have a slice of pie than a salad.”

“Then” is used to express a sense of time or what comes next or used to be, as in “First I’ll have a salad and then I’ll have a slice of pie.” Thus, to write “And than I sat down to watch TV” is wrong. It should be “And then I sat down to watch TV.”

As I said, I never posted a comment because I didn’t want to sound like a pedantic asshole, even though I probably am one. And I didn’t want to make the blogger feel bad.

On the other hand, I felt as if I was depriving the blogger of a “teachable moment.” Wouldn’t it have been beneficial to that blogger to point out that he or she used the wrong word multiple times in an otherwise great post?

The post received a lot of love. Plenty of likes and more than three dozen comments. But not one comment mentioned the “than/then” issue.

What would you do? Would you bite your tongue and let the blogger continue to potentially misuse the word “than” in future posts? Or would you have let the blogger know so that he/she wouldn’t keep making that same mistake?

58 thoughts on “The Horns of a Dilemma

  1. ESP March 14, 2019 / 4:25 am

    post the comment, and let us know how it is received.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 8:39 am

      I don’t know. I should probably just let it pass.


      • ESP March 14, 2019 / 8:48 am

        No, don’t let it pass. We all are keen to watch and learn from your the comment!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. paeansunplugged March 14, 2019 / 4:44 am

    Usually I refrain but I once couldn’t help myself. I pointed out the mistake on an older post which I was sure won’t get more visits and the blogger was very graceful and grateful.
    I would always like to be told when I make a mistake.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sadje March 14, 2019 / 4:49 am

    I am making these sort of blunders myself and do proofread my posts to make sure that I don’t post with grammatical mistakes. I don’t know if you should tell The bloggers their mistake. Some people are grateful for the correction of their errors while others take offense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 8:41 am

      “Some people are grateful for the correction of their errors while others take offense.” Yes, and that is my dilemma.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sadje March 14, 2019 / 8:59 am

        If worded properly, it can be done without offense. I can’t do that as I have foot in the mouth disease. You probably can!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ruth March 14, 2019 / 4:52 am

    Hmmm… if it was a blogger I knew well and knew they would normally write things correctly, I’d probably politely let them know of their irritating error. But if it was a blogger I didn’t know or someone who often showed a lack of grammatical knowledge or spelling prowess, I’d probably just ‘like’ the idea or the meaning behind the post rather than fixate on the presentation (however much it pissed me off), and let it slide…
    PS If I make such mistakes please feel free to correct me, as I seem to proof-read unpublished posts several times and see nothing wrong, and then as soon as I hit ‘publish’ a load of silly little errors appear on the page as if by magic! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 8:43 am

      When I proofread my own posts, my brain apparently sees what it expects as opposed to what’s actually presented on the page.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The Haunted Wordsmith March 14, 2019 / 5:11 am

    This reminds me of a recent drama-fest in the writing community on Twitter. A “writing is a business” person tweeted that if a writer’s tweet has grammatical errors, then he would not buy their books because obviously they cannot write well. You can imagine the shit storm that ensued.

    When there is a typo that changes the meaning of the post (hey, it happens), I will make a comment. If it doesn’t change the meaning of the post, I don’t.

    Yes, reading things that are obviously the wrong word but often confused (then/than) is annoying and sometimes you just want to ask where they went to school, but did it change the meaning or intent of the post? Learning lessons are best given in private and only when asked. Once a guy called me out on Twitter for a story I wrote on my blog because I wrote, “It was in the 1920s” rather than “showing” that it was the 1920s (he lost the argument in the end).

    Long story short (too late, I know), it is up to you to decide whether the blogger should be called out, but first ask how you would respond if someone did that to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 8:47 am

      I am actually grateful to have someone point out a typo or an error. It gives me an opportunity to correct it. But I know that not everyone appreciates it. I once pointed out to a blogger that he was misusing “there” and “their,” and that his typos distracted from his message. He told me to fuck off.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Haunted Wordsmith March 14, 2019 / 8:54 am

        I don’t mind when people point them out. In fact, I have often wondered how/why so many people would read something with a glaring oops and not mention it (I once had 12+ people “like” an untitled post lol)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. larry trasciatti March 14, 2019 / 5:21 am

    I assume it’s always permissible to engage in polite fraternal correction.. Here’s one for you..Starting a sentence with ‘but’ (a preposition) is generally frowned upon. Isn’t the term ‘but on the other hand’ redundant?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 8:51 am

      Old school writing rules suggest that starting sentences with “but” and “and” is a no-no. But contemporary language buffs have noted that it’s slowly becoming accepted. That said, you’re right. “But on the other hand” is redundant. Thanks for pointing that out. I have corrected it in my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Timelesslady March 14, 2019 / 5:49 am

    I wouldn’t say a thing. I have a few bloggers I follow and when they complain about other bloggers making grammatical mistakes I want to scold them for being prideful. To point out a mistake sometimes causes inhibitions rather than enlightenment. Does it really matter? I am also like Sadje, I read and reread posts before I hit publish and STILL miss mistakes. I will read over posts from years before and cringe when I find terrible mistakes I never noticed, such as double negatives in a sentence, etc. For me, the importance is definitely the content not the quality of writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 8:59 am

      Good point. That said, I do appreciate when someone points out a grammatical error, word misuse, or typo I made in a post so I can go back and correct it. But that’s just me. I think I’ll just bite my tongue and let it slide.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Timelesslady March 14, 2019 / 10:37 am

        Another aspect to consider is some of the bloggers on WordPress are writing in their second language. Since I only speak one language, I find this amazing. I have made a good friend through the blogging, she writes in English, and it is her second language.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 12:30 pm

          Yes, and English is not an easy language to learn, much less to master…even for those of us who are natural English speakers.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Timelesslady March 15, 2019 / 5:21 am

            And I live in the area where everyone talks just like Rocky Balboa. It’s a wonderful place. Go Eagles…and now Go Phillies…its baseball season.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Timelesslady March 15, 2019 / 5:23 am

            I just realized should my ‘its’ have had an apostrophe…it is all rather confusing. When I comment on these posts I make so many mistakes. I better get out my Elements of Style and brush up a bit. I’ve enjoyed the post and comments. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Fandango March 15, 2019 / 8:42 am

              Your “it’s” in your previous comment correctly had an apostrophe, since it was a contraction for “it is.” I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my posts and the comment. Thanks.

              Liked by 1 person

        • rugby843 March 14, 2019 / 7:05 pm

          I agree. Ewe who grow up with English often find it difficult

          Liked by 2 people

  8. EricR March 14, 2019 / 6:14 am

    Interesting question. My approach is always to be polite, even in the face of criticism. Not easy but it’s good to avoid regrets about my behaviour. The only thing I would change in your post is “…you need to understand the difference between…” to something like “…consider the difference between…”. That way you are offering information without the pedantic part that concerns you.

    Keep in mind that you can never know how someone perceives what you say. So you can be as kind as you wish and still find that someone took offence. As for making someone feel bad, as long as you know you’re not being rude, you are not responsible for others’ feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 12:21 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion on wording. Should I decide to post the comment, I will word it that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. rugby843 March 14, 2019 / 7:06 am

    I read, I don’t correct, as I’ve had those moments myself. No, my advice is to enjoy what you describe as witty, and leave it alone. A lot of times spell check makes those mistakes. No use in hurting someone’s feelings, is there?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Milly March 14, 2019 / 7:38 am

    If I truly care about the blogger and the then/than mistakes are really consistent, then I would at least find a way to let the blogger know about his mistake. Maybe not through posting comments, but maybe sending an email (most blogs I know have their Contact page). Maybe what I’m saying is, whatever others wrongs may have, it’s better to correct them without an audience. That way, maybe they’d feel we’re just really caring, not hating, and also, not really being that prideful to show the world their mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 1:02 pm

      I like your suggestion. The blogger does have a contact page.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Marilyn Armstrong March 14, 2019 / 7:38 am

    I try not to correct grammar, though I sometimes write private notes rather than put them in a comment. If it’s not public, I think it “goes down” better.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. pensitivity101 March 14, 2019 / 7:45 am

    Toughie. At school, Teacher would put the big red S through the mistake. I read posts and notice spelling or grammar errors, but I’m not, and never was, a teacher so don’t feel right in thinking to correct the writer. I always read my own posts after I’ve published them and correct any errors I see as the auto correct doesn’t always pick them up, and sometimes amends a word regardless! Sadly that’s not possible with typos on comments unless on my own site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Timelesslady March 14, 2019 / 10:34 am

      Oh my! The mistakes I’ve made and hit ‘post comment’ before I’ve noticed them…that could be a whole post in itself.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Irene March 14, 2019 / 8:14 am

    I appreciate it when someone spots a mistake and lets me know. Maybe a way to compromise in this particular case would be to comment something along the lines of: “I liked your post a lot; I noticed a typo, ‘than’ instead of ‘then’ …” , and leave it to the author to figure out the difference, so you do not come across as a “P.A.” (LOL)

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Susan Zutautas March 14, 2019 / 8:33 am

    I’ve had people contact me through an email or on Facebook if they’ve noticed a spelling mistake on one of my posts or articles. I appreciated it. I wouldn’t post a comment on the blog itself. I’d try and let them know another way.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. floatinggold March 14, 2019 / 8:36 am

    That’s actually something I struggle with as well.

    Personally, I appreciate corrections.
    There are times when I do leave a comment regarding an error, but it’s when I have a decent relationship with the blogger.
    In the beginning, I used to correct everything I saw, because I thought they would like to know. I was projecting. Most of the time they would get upset, or tell me that they didn’t care. The latter made me unfollow them, actually.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. The Diary of a Country Bumpkin March 14, 2019 / 9:16 am

    Perhaps they post on their phone and it was a slip of the thumb, watching people write on their phone I’m amazed they spell anything correctly. I’m old fashioned I need a full size keyboard and screen to write with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 1:26 pm

      I post on my phone all the time and it does take extra effort to proofread because the keypad is so tiny, making it easier to make typos.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Paula Light March 14, 2019 / 9:20 am

    I wouldn’t do it because people are jerks, in my opinion. However if you ever spot ANY ERROR AT ALL on one of my posts please tell me please please please!!! I am always grateful for the opportunity to fix typos and learn about my grammar mistakes. I can’t stand the thought of a piece of writing sitting out there for years with an error in it argh! Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. BlackSheep March 14, 2019 / 9:54 am

    If it were me, I think I’d like to be corrected, but than again, maybe not.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. B Pradeep Nair March 14, 2019 / 10:12 am

    Well, I would have appreciated what the blogger had written, and at the end would point out (trying my best not to sound rude or pontificating) the wrong usage of the word ‘than’.
    I someone were to point out a mistake I committed in my blog post, I would love to be corrected. After all, none of us is perfect.
    (I found your blog via the A-Z Challenge signup list.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 1:40 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.


  20. msjadeli March 14, 2019 / 4:10 pm

    Not your job to be a proofreader. Leave it be. One exception would be if the writer was asking for help, THAN you could help THAM.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marleen March 14, 2019 / 5:14 pm

      That’s a good and fun use of comparative “words.” I had thought about sharing something boring (and perhaps harder to grasp) — that than goes with “farther” (rather than further) while then would go in a sentence like Then we will further our cause.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. cagedunn March 14, 2019 / 4:46 pm

    One of my edit sessions (for a story, not a post) is to watch specifically for the then/than problem, which seems to be one of the ‘slip of the fingers’ issues I have (not the only one, by any means). Well, I thought it was just me. Obviously not.
    Another person I know can’t use a keyboard, so the auto-correct gives her whatever it damn-well likes! I still get the message, and don’t worry about it because I know where it came from.

    In blogging, I appreciate if someone tells me because I do the posts off the top of the head, a writing warm-up exercise, and rarely go back to fix things unless someone points out a boo-boo.
    However, for people who ask for help and then get bombastic about the response, they can go stuff their … let’s just leave it there, shall we?
    Life is short, worry less, and less still about the things that don’t matter.
    And FANBOY words can start sentences, and unless you read/write in Latin, a preposition can end a sentence, and anyone who was taught that an ‘h’ must have ‘an’ as precedent had a teacher who didn’t know the language.
    Not pedantic, just like to get a clear message – both from and to.
    How’s that for a bit of banter? I think I need to get back to …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen March 14, 2019 / 5:07 pm

      However, for people who ask for help and then get bombastic about the response, they can go stuff their … let’s just leave it there, shall we?

      Yes. I have actually seen that happen too.

      … and unless you read/write in Latin, a preposition can end a sentence…

      Yess! (I’ve heard this before, but I like it to be reinforced.)

      Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango March 14, 2019 / 7:15 pm

      “… anyone who was taught that an ‘h’ must have ‘an’ as precedent had a teacher who didn’t know the language. I was taught that, which is why, to this day, I say “an historic event.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • cagedunn March 14, 2019 / 8:37 pm

        When you find out where it came from, you won’t do it anymore.
        This site has an explanation of what it should be:
        but the hijacking came from the upper-class gentry in 1890s-1910 (ish) talking about ‘otels, and as with everything posh, it became gospel, didn’t it.
        yes, it was invented by the hoi-poloi to distinguish them from us. and of course, the us, the plebbs, always aim to be like our betters, what ho?
        I refuse, even though it was taugh to me with an before an h. Uh uh.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. leigha66 March 21, 2019 / 5:39 am

    I think it would depend on the blogger and the way it is presented. I know I am bad with punctuation especially. I would hope someone would KINDLY let me know if I make a mistake. Believe me, I know I am far from perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

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