View Full Version : Taking a decision on different than

12-02-2006, 08:55 AM
Every now and then I run across the phrase "take a decision".

I find this jarring and distasteful, but I can't think of a good reason why. I grew up making decisions.

Same thing with "different than", except more problemmatic, cause I can see the logic behind it.

Is this a regional difference, or is there some subtler rule I'm missing?

12-02-2006, 04:09 PM
Different than...

I don't understand how 'different than' came into use or why. It has never made sense to me and sounds so ugly.
I can see how two things can be different from each other and even different to each other but where's the grammatical sense in something being different than another?

12-03-2006, 08:12 PM
I don't believe I've ever heard take a decision, except in a usage like My boss can take a decision and make it look stupid. Does it mean the same as make a decision?

I still miss reph, but I did save her post on different from/different than:
Different Than/DifferentFrom by reph, AW, 3/06

He looks different from us. --preposition + object

He looks different from his photo. --preposition + object

He looks different than his photo would make you think. --conjunction + clause

He dances differently than we do. --conjunction + clause

The paint is a different color than she expected. --conjunction + clause

The paint is a different color than the swatch. --conjunction + partial clause. (This is the tricky one. Full version: The paint is a different color than the swatch is. Or, I suppose, The paint is a different color than the swatch is a color. Uh.)

The way to tell is, if you try to complete the sentence by supplying missing "ghost words" like this: "Girls are different than boys are," or "Girls are different than boys are different," you get nonsense.

Girls aren't different than boys are something (fill in the blank). Girls are just different from boys, period. Girls and boys are different. Girls differ from boys. Girls and boys differ.

Maryn, who agrees with it

12-05-2006, 04:28 AM
don't see it! It looks like that old Webster man and his proponents trying to cut out the number of words used.

What's wrong with:
He looks different from the way his photograph would make you think.

Instead of Reph's (Where is she by the way?) American:
He looks different than his photo would make you think.

That than is so harsh and obtrusive. To my ears it stops the sentence flow and doesn't help you understand the meaning clearly at first hearing.

12-05-2006, 05:44 AM
(Where reph is: She had a fundamental disagreement and chose to leave. Any more than that isn't mine to tell.)

(Maryn, who wouldn't have known if she hadn't asked)

Becky Writes
12-05-2006, 06:14 AM
I've never heard take a decision to mean "make a decision."

It's a phrase that's different than anything I've ever heard.
(Is that right? It sounds right to me.)

12-05-2006, 07:55 AM
For the use of different than/from/to, try

The American Heritage® Book of English Usage: http://www.bartleby.com/64/C003/098.html

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary 2005-2006: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/different

usage Numerous commentators have condemned different than in spite of its use since the 17th century by many of the best-known names in English literature. It is nevertheless standard and is even recommended in many handbooks when followed by a clause, because insisting on from in such instances often produces clumsy or wordy formulations. Different from, the generally safe choice, is more common especially when it is followed by a noun or pronoun.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000: http://www.bartleby.com/61/53/D0215300.html

USAGE NOTE: Different from and different than are both common in British and American English. The construction different to is chiefly British. Since the 18th century, language critics have singled out different than as incorrect, though it is well attested in the works of reputable writers. According to traditional guidelines, from is used when the comparison is between two persons or things: My book is different from (not than) yours. Different than is more acceptably used, particularly in American usage, where the object of comparison is expressed by a full clause: The campus is different than it was 20 years ago. Different from may be used with a clause if the clause starts with a conjunction and so functions as a noun: The campus is different from how it was 20 years ago. •Sometimes people interpret a simple noun phrase following different than as elliptical for a clause, which allows for a subtle distinction in meaning between the two constructions. How different this seems from Paris suggests that the object of comparison is the city of Paris itself, whereas How different this seems than Paris suggests that the object of comparison is something like “the way things were in Paris” or “what happened in Paris.”

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993: http://www.bartleby.com/68/37/1837.html

Please note: these are American English references.

Aussie born and bred, I use all three (finding different than rolls off the tongue, due to my "old school" upbringing and the influence of people around me). The saying "it's different than that" is used here when someone's frustrated (when someone else isn't "getting it").

This does seem to be a regional/cultural thing that could be applied to written dialogue or informal writing. (JMO)

12-06-2006, 05:04 AM
I see that "different than" has its uses. I'll try not to get bent out of shape by it.

And I'm gratified to hear no one's familiar with "take a decision". (A little background: first saw it in a book called "First On The Moon" by some ghostwriter working with the Apollo 11 astronauts. Every time there was some question, NASA engineers had to put their heads together and take a decision. To me that was almost as bad as the boom mike in "The Breakup".)


12-06-2006, 07:49 AM
It sounds very British to me. A google seems to support that, although I've never heard or seen it used, myself.

12-06-2006, 08:47 AM
Still can't take to it. Different than sounds ugly. And the problem is that most people are using it incorrectly when they should be using different from.

Take a decision? Make surely.

Sorry about Reph, she was a valuable and helpful person.

12-07-2006, 02:17 AM
Maybe it's just one of those phrases which sound weird.

Field of Dreams comes to mind...Wanna have a catch?