Posted by: Jack Henry | May 21, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Different From or Different Than?

Over the past year or so, I’ve received several emails asking me if the term “different than” is incorrect. Apparently, many of you were taught that you should always use “different from” in your writing and speech. I guess I missed that class or it wasn’t my teacher’s pet peeve. Here is what I’ve found on the topic and I’d like to share it with all of you inquiring minds.

Different From vs. Different Than

Indeed, the standard, most common phrase is different from. The advice of many grammarians is to avoid different than like the plague. (Okay, they might not be quite so adamant about it.) There also seems to be a continental divide as far as this topic goes. While different from is preferred in both America and Great Britain, Americans also use different than, and Brits use different to. (See Oxford Dictionaries for more information.)

Here are a few examples of the two in action:

· Her performance during the final game was different from any of the regular games; she was quick, aggressive, and made every basket.

· His hair was different from his father’s in two ways: it was lighter and curlier.

· It is no different for Frenchmen than it is for Belgians. (Using different…from makes this phrase awkward: It is no different for Frenchmen from the way it is for Belgians.)

So, your safest bet is to use different from. Here is a little tidbit on the topic from Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, by Mignon Fogarty:

Different from is preferred to different than. I remember this by remembering that different has two f’s and only one t, so the best choice between than and from is the one that starts with an f.

Squiggly knew he was different from the other snails.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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