“Different From” Vs

We all have our pet grammar peeves, usages that, when we hear them, affect us like the sound of a fingernail against a chalkboard.

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I’ll bet I’m not the only one who shudders to lớn hear sentences lượt thích these:

A boxer is different than a Doberman.This oto is different to that one.

Yet, are these usages really incorrect?

According to lớn the entry for different from, different to, different than at Bartleby.com,

These three have been usage items for many years. All are Standard & have long been so (different to is limited to British English, however), but only different from seems never to lớn meet objections.

Elements of Style weighs in against different than:

Here xúc tích và ngắn gọn supports established usage: one thing differs from another, hence, different from. Or, other than, unlike.

From H.W. Fowler comes this pronouncement:

That different can only be followed by from và not by to is a superstition.

He points out that “writers of all ages” have used different to. He does not mention the use of different than.

It would seem, then, that any of the three is acceptable.

Nevertheless, the concluding advice at Bartleby.com agrees with my own:

…for Formal and Oratorical levels: stiông chồng with different from.

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65 Responses lớn “Different from, Different to lớn, Different than”

Gwenon October 30, 2007 7:05 pm

Eeek! I shudder, too, when reading “different than”. Aurally, I might not notice it so much.

It reminds me of my uncertainty about another expression that bugs me: when people say “waiting ON” someone rather than “waiting FOR” someone. It may stem from my reaction from years of waitressing that I am never, ever waiting ON someone unless as a waitress. Is there a non-waitressing context where “waiting ON” is the correct usage instead of “waiting FOR”? Is the former just colloquial or slang?

Maeveon October 30, 2007 11:37 pm

Gwen,I agree that “waiting on” in the sense of “waiting for” is non-standard usage. It’s a regionalism.

In standard usage “We were waiting on the bus” indicates that the speaker was inside the bus & waiting. I would say “I was waiting for Charlie and not on Charlie, unless I was his waitress. Ladies-in-waiting are said to “wait upon the queen,” in the sense of attending to lớn her needs.

Another “on” expression that drives me round the twist, but which is very comtháng on TV because of the dominance of the Eastern American dialect in the truyền thông, is “waiting on line” in the sense of “waiting in line.”I wait in line to lớn buy a ticket, but on line for a slow page lớn load.

Tordekon October 31, 2007 2:44 am

The one that turns my Murder Mode on is “Try & hit me”.

(BTW, Brit punctuation is prettier khổng lồ me, so that period goes OUTSIDE.)

Maeveon October 31, 2007 2:52 am

Tordek,It has taken a great effort on my part to learn to place the period inside the quotation marks. When in Rome.

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Hilaryon November 01, 2007 3:51 pm

I was so pleased khổng lồ know that others out there cringe at ‘different than’ plus, as a Brit, I have sầu taken a long time as well khổng lồ adjust lớn putting the comma inside the quotation marks.

Other grammatical errors which throw me inlớn a Dickey Fit (especially as an English person who was severely rapped over the knuckles in school over these) are the following:

– he gave sầu it to lớn hyên và I (instead of me)

– the person that (instead of ‘who’)

– there’s lots of (instead of ‘there are lots of’)

– none of them are (instead of ‘none of them is’)

While it may be appropriate to have the above errors made in certain dialogue, vì we not, as writers, have some obligation lớn write correctly?

Perhaps I’m alone in this?

Maeveon November 01, 2007 4:31 pm

Hilary,It wasn’t so long ago that American English teachers did the same kind of knuckle-rapping over correct usage — even in Arkansas where I grew up. (You will notice that Bill Clinton, who had some of the same teachers I had, speaks better English than a certain graduate of Yale.)

You’re not alone in thinking that writers have sầu an obligation to lớn mã sản phẩm correct usage. Browse the DWT site for posts on the peeves you’ve listed. Your first example is one of the things I come baông chồng to lớn again & again. ( See TV’s War on “Me” & “I”)

In an effort to lớn vày my part in this war against standard English I’ve sầu started my own site called the American English Doctor. It’s targeted lớn parents of children who attend public schools (American version). Its purpose is lớn provide parents with the information & encouragement they need khổng lồ measure their children’s literacy in a meaningful way. Teaching quality varies enormously from school khổng lồ school và Eduspeak tends to lớn obscure how much learning is actually taking place.

Ashaon November 02, 2007 6:08 am

Let me thank you foremost for starting DWT Vocabulary Test. It is wonderful lớn have something like this. Took the demo & felt that I had answered everything perfectly…but sadly on checking the answers realized that I had scored only 80%. Am sure I will do better next time. Thank you once again.Asha

Maeveon November 02, 2007 3:26 pm

Thanks for your bình luận, Asha.

Credit for the vocabulary thử nghiệm belongs lớn Daniel.

Ian Bon January 09, 2010 2:24 pm

# Tordek on October 31, 2007 2:44 am

The one that turns my Murder Mode on is “Try & hit me”.

(BTW, Brit punctuation is prettier lớn me, so that period goes OUTSIDE.)# Maeve sầu on October 31, 2007 2:52 am

Tordek,It has taken a great effort on my part khổng lồ learn to lớn place the period inside the quotation marks. When in Rome.

On this occasion Maeve, the period is correctly plkaced outside the quotation marks.

George Craigon February 24, 2010 4:01 am

Am I the only one to cringe at using “them” or “their” as singular rather than plural? It seems lớn have come from TV announcers & others who should know better but are trying to be politically correct at the expense of being grammatically incorrect. Each child is entitled khổng lồ their education (gee did we blow his or her education.)

Robinon April 21, 2010 1:25 am

I’m all for adopting “them/they/their” as standard usage for a singular, neutral pronoun. Modern english otherwise lacks such a pronoun, & having lớn utilize “he or she”, “hyên or her”, etc. is a mouthful và a ridiculous nuisance. I’m all for doing away with antiquated rules that impose undue hindrance upon standard language speakers. Language rules are not written in stone và can be changed. Same goes for dangling prepositions.

Hugoon April 22, 2010 12:29 pm

Firstly, Glen cannot spell ‘Orally’.

Second, the information you’ve provided clearly cannot be summed up as‘It would seem, then, that any of the three is acceptable.’This is because ‘different than’ is completely out of the question.

Finally, ‘different to’ is the correct version, end of. ‘Different from’ is a modern phrase that is actually wrong, but hard lớn prove seeing as so many people use it, including Oxbridge-graduated politicians.

Susanon May 24, 2010 12:40 pm

Hugo, Gwen was quite correct to lớn use “aurally” as that refers to lớn hearing and she was commenting on how she would react khổng lồ hearing, rather than reading, a phrase. “Orally” refers to lớn speaking & it is quite obvious that she would not choose khổng lồ speak such a phrase.

Hugoon May 25, 2010 12:11 pm

True dat, sorry! Learn something new everyday hey