then vs and then

Guest Editor Robin Cruise: When Do You Put “and” Before “then”?


Dear Editor…

When you use “and then” in a sentence, is it more clear to use either “and” or “then” versus both? Why would you need the word “and” before “then”?


Dear Natasha…

Ah, the best answer for your first question just might be … yes and no! It’s like asking whom you like better—or who is ultimately more useful—your hip, hot aunt Mimi or your deliberate, precise aunt Prissy. Ultimately, it might be that in a pinch each of them is just right in her own way. OK, Mimi-of-the-purple-hair is a little loosey-goosey, and a casual vibe is fine by her. She’s all about rhythm and ease, and she’d be likely to blurt: “I gobbled, burped, and bolted!” As for Aunt Prissy-of-the-sunscreen-and-sensible-shoes? Well, she likes her proverbial ducks lined up in a tidy row—and a clear, linear order for things. From Prissy’s perspective, things don’t tend to happen all at once, in an avalanche, and she prefers a slower, first-things-first mode. Prissy would be more inclined to advise: “I yawned, stretched, and then slowly opened my eyes.” Ultimately, your question is about pacing—and the answer/choice is all yours. You don’t need the word and before then, but … you just might want it, to apply the brakes!

-Guest Editor Robin Cruise
Red Pencil Consulting

Robin Cruise is committed to literacy and has been involved, as both an author and a publishing professional, in creating books for young readers for the past twenty years. Her experience includes more than 15 years with the children’s books division of Harcourt Trade Publishers. Robin lives in Kirkland, Washington, where she is the founder and principal of Red Pencil Consulting. In that capacity she works closely with authors, editors, and others to develop and deliver manuscripts, books, and additional high-quality content for publication and other uses. Contact Robin through her website,