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archerjoe
04-27-2009, 04:58 PM
Unless the search is acting funny, the word "different" has not been used in the grammar and syntax forum until this post.

I overheard a heated discussion on "different than" vs. "different from". I found a piece of advice in a dictionary recommending if I don't know the difference, I should use "different from". It didn't explain any further.

What is the difference?

alleycat
04-27-2009, 05:18 PM
Just Google "different than vs. different from" and you'll get all the information on the subject that you can stand.

;-)

archerjoe
04-27-2009, 05:55 PM
Just Google "different than vs. different from" and you'll get all the information on the subject that you can stand.

;-)

:eek: you're right, that's one messy topic.

IceCreamEmpress
04-27-2009, 06:58 PM
"Different than" is never OK usage in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand.

"Different to" is never OK usage in the US.

In general, it's best in US usage to use "different from" except when it's followed by a verb:

Paris is different from Rome.
Paris is different than it was in the 1920s.

Some US editors would rewrite the second sentence to "Today's Paris is different from the 1920s French capital" but I wouldn't.

Ludka
04-28-2009, 03:34 AM
IceCream explained it perfectly. Go with that.

Keyan
04-28-2009, 11:43 AM
"Different than" is never OK usage in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand.

"Different to" is never OK usage in the US.

In general, it's best in US usage to use "different from" except when it's followed by a verb:

Paris is different from Rome.
Paris is different than it was in the 1920s.

Some US editors would rewrite the second sentence to "Today's Paris is different from the 1920s French capital" but I wouldn't.

Gosh, I don't think I've ever heard "different from" in the US; it's always been "different than" - and vice versa for India/ other ex-Brit places in Asia.

I find this reassuring. When my "different from"s slip into my writing, it's not going to flag it as ungrammatical.

ComicBent
04-29-2009, 03:46 AM
Back when they still taught English in American schools, the distinction was this:

*different than*
It introduces a clause (whether the verb is stated or is implied).

Examples:

He is different now than he was in high school.
He is different now than {he was} in high school.

*different from*
It introduces an object of the preposition from.

Examples:

He is different from his friend.
He is different from how he used to be.

Nowadays, in an era when ignorance prevails, than has just about replaced from entirely. This is because the US no longer regards proper language as a mark of merit. The editor who reads your copy may know far less than you do.

In Britain, as someone pointed out, different to is common.

davidnowlin
05-08-2009, 05:51 AM
This is apparently an unpopular view even among grammarians, but I don't think it's ever okay to use 'different than' in any form. The words just don't go together. Taking an example that was presented as a correct usage, I'll try to illustrate:
He is different now than he was in high school.
He is different now than {he was} in high school.The word 'different' is nothing but the adjectival form of the verb 'differ.' When a thing is different from another thing, the first thing differs from the second. One should be able to switch between the forms without offending the ear. But you would never say:
He differs now than he was in high school.
He differs now than {he was} in high school. or even
He differs now than the man he was in high school.
The problem with saying that 'different than' is appropriate when "[i]t introduces a clause (whether the verb is stated or is implied)," is precisely that it encourages us to forget what 'different' is supposed to be used for. It's a word that compares two like objects or concepts that have some difference between them. When you use it to 'introduce a clause' you're no longer comparing an object to an object, or a concept to a concept. You are, almost every time, comparing a thing to a manner of being. A thing cannot be different from a manner of being. They have nothing to do with one another. They can't be compared.
He (thing) is different now than [he was in high school] (manner of being).
He is a person. The way he was in high school is not. The only way to correct this, I think, is to compare like to like.
He is different now from the man he was high school.
The way he is now is different from the way he was in high school.
I think 'different than' never works.