Different than vs. different from vs. different to

Tresley

Senior Member
British English
I don't think I've heard different to--is it used in Math in the United Kingdom?

I think I would say
-x is different from y, z and w.

Maybe I'm just not into my game tonight....
(too many turkey leftovers....)
DIFFERENT FROM??

What do you mean?

Diffrent from? I have never heard this strange expression.

It's always "different to"


Please explain more..............
 
  • ricardoii

    New Member
    Español - Colombia
    Thanks for your answers, so I think is a common mistake to employ "different than" (I've heard it several times) and I am believing that depending on which side of the atlantic you are, you would hear "different from" (new for me) or "different to".

    Thanks again!!!
     

    xebonyx

    Senior Member
    TR/AR/EN
    It's definitely different from in this sense.

    By saying different from you are taking it out a pool of possibilities; x is among w,y,z, and when you look at it it differs. You are making a general statement about x in comparison to w,y, and z.

    Using different to means in something's opinion, i believe. It is impossible touse different to to refer to w,y,z because they are inanimate. However, x can look different to a person in relation to w,y,z.
     

    Quelqu'un

    Member
    English, US
    Wow. Maybe British English is radically different from American English. Here the only correct option is DIFFERENT FROM. Not different to or different than.

    This is truly intriguing.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Wow. Maybe British English is radically different from American English. Here the only correct option is DIFFERENT FROM. Not different to or different than.

    This is truly intriguing.
    I'm not so sure about that, Quelqu'un. I'm an old-enough Canadian to have been taught primarily the British ways of speaking English and have conversed with many folks from Britain and can't think of an instance where I've heard "different to". I will admit to having heard "different than" which, to my mind, isn't incorrect but I would definitely notice if "different to" were used in this context. If Tresley would only come back and explain...:)
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    link

    The phrases different from and different than are both common in British and American English. The British also use the construction different to.

    This is new information for me.

    As for the use of "from" vs. "than", it is one of those ongoing disputes that goes round and round and round and round. ;)

    Gaer
     

    GEmatt

    Senior Member
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    I've consistently been taught different to and different from (BE), the rationale being that than denotes a comparison of greater extent., i.e. a comparison in the "same direction".

    The new building is taller than the old one.
    Judy did better in her exams than Peter.

    Different to works simply as a juxtaposition of the objects of comparison, and different from comes from the verbal use, "to differ from".

    We were never taught that different than was wrong, strictly speaking; it just never entered the discussion at all. Better the devil you know:)
     

    Tresley

    Senior Member
    British English
    Good morning all!

    I was very interested in your answers to this question. I had to go to bed last night and was eager to see other replies to this question this morning.

    I didn't know that "different from" or "different than" were considered to be correct expressions. I was very surprised when I read the answers given by foreros on the other side of the Atlantic. The usual expression in the UK is "different to".

    I have found this on the American dictionary site "Dictionary.com", that seems to explain quite clearly:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/help/faq/language/g02.html

    This dictionary ackowledges that "different to" is chiefly British.

    I would phrase the examples given on the above website as follows:

    "Apples are different to peaches".
    "My selection is different to yours"
    "The event turned out to be different to what I expected"
    "The college is different to how it was when I was at school"

    It wouldn't have ever entered my head to use either "different from" or "different than" in any of the expressions quoted on Dictionary.com.

    I hope this helps.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The latest thread on this topic has just been added to previous discussions.
    It may be worth looking back at earlier comments.
    The previous threads have been found and today's added to the compendium. I found it by looking for different in the WR dictionary. At the bottom of the definitions is a list of all the threads with different in their title.

    This provokes me to make two points:
    First, that very often the quickest way to find previous threads about a topic is to look up a key word in the dictionary.
    Second, to point out that this is why we are so keen that thread titles should be meaningful - they are automatically linked to the dictionary definitions.

    Now, what was the topic again?
    Panj
    (Mod)
     

    rodoke

    Senior Member
    en-US; .us
    I generally use than, and sometimes from. I have heard of but never heard anyone say different to.

    My opinion: The meanings of all three are clear, and none of the expressions can mean anything else; I don't really care one way or the other.
     

    Victoria32

    Senior Member
    English (UK) New Zealand
    In a recent post, the questioner used an example that included the phrase "different than". Since that wasn't the point of the question, I thought I'd start a new thread:

    I strongly prefer "different from". Do you agree?

    << Now incorporating CarolSueC's thread as well as one by teia_55 and another by cyberpedant - and one started by LouisaB .>>
    ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY!!!!

    There's no way "different than" can possibly be anything but wrong. The way I see it is, consider the word differ.
    "Geese differ from ducks". You can't say "Geese differ than ducks".

    "Differ to" grates less, but it is still wrong.

    In this case (as in others) I am happy to be a prescriptivist.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    [...]
    The way I see it is, consider the word differ.
    "Geese differ from ducks". You can't say "Geese differ than ducks".

    "Differ to" grates less, but it is still wrong.

    In this case (as in others) I am happy to be a prescriptivist.
    See earlier report from New Fowler's Modern English Usage:
    ... there is no logical reason why "... all words in the same morphological family should be construed with the same prepositions." We say:
    according to, accords with;
    full of, filled with;
    pride in, proud of.
    Why should different be different:D
    Although different than would never come naturally to me, it clearly does to a very large proportion of the native English-speaking population, and it has been used by writers of note. Here is what the OED has to say on this topic:
    The usual construction is now with from; that with to (after unlike, dissimilar to) is found in writers of all ages, and is frequent colloquially, but is by many considered incorrect. The construction with than (after other than), is found in Fuller, Addison, Steele, De Foe, Richardson, Goldsmith, Miss Burney, Coleridge, Southey, De Quincey, Carlyle, Thackeray, Newman, Trench, and Dasent, among others: see F. Hall Mod. English iii. 82.
     

    Victoria32

    Senior Member
    English (UK) New Zealand
    I would only write "different from" to avoid being stoned by prescriptivists. :D

    Gaer
    But then if stoned, you could always duck! :D
    See earlier report from New Fowler's Modern English Usage:
    Although different than would never come naturally to me, it clearly does to a very large proportion of the native English-speaking population, and it has been used by writers of note. Here is what the OED has to say on this topic:
    Yes, but... it still grates on my nerves! Sorry...
     

    jimvano

    New Member
    English
    At alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxdiffer.html I found
    these interesting statistics.

    "The Collins Cobuild Bank of English shows choice of
    preposition after 'different' to be distributed as follows:

    "from" "to" "than"
    ----- ---- ------
    U.K. writing 87.6 10.8 1.5
    U.K. speech 68.8 27.3 3.9
    U.S. writing 92.7 0.3 7.0
    U.S. speech 69.3 0.6 30.1"
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    At alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxdiffer.html I found
    these interesting statistics.

    "The Collins Cobuild Bank of English shows choice of
    preposition after 'different' to be distributed as follows:

    "from" "to" "than"
    ----- ---- ------
    U.K. writing 87.6 10.8 1.5
    U.K. speech 68.8 27.3 3.9
    U.S. writing 92.7 0.3 7.0
    U.S. speech 69.3 0.6 30.1"
    Hello jimvano, and welcome to the forums:)

    Interesting statistics, which bear out previous discussions in the forums, which I think have concluded that AmE usage alternates between "different from" and "different than" whereas BrE usage alternates between "different to" and "different from".

    Personally, I've always envied the flexibility of AmE "different than". Sadly, I can't say it...
     

    icecreamsoldier

    Senior Member
    New Zealand English
    I still am curious whether the "different to" is heard in Australia and New Zealand.
    We use "different from" and "different to" rather interchangeably.

    As stated in many posts in this thread there are instances where "than" is preferable, but these are exceptions to common usage, the most frequent of which I believe is in the case of omission such as:

    "The results came out different than expected."

    (i.e. different from/to what we had expected)
     

    Blootix

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Different from is undisputed, so in writing, I would always use different from to avoid contention. Different than and different to, to me, are both substandard constructions to be used in speech only. In California, people use different than almost exclusively in speech, but few people would actually write different than on an assignment.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Different from is undisputed, so in writing, I would always use different from to avoid contention. Different than and different to, to me, are both substandard constructions to be used in speech only. In California, people use different than almost exclusively in speech, but few people would actually write different than on an assignment.
    Are you sure "different to" is considered substandard in places such as England and Australia?
     

    Blootix

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Are you sure "different to" is considered substandard in places such as England and Australia?
    Nope, and that's why I said "to me" they're substandard.

    EDIT: I looked it up in Gardner, and it says that different than is inferior to different from and that different to is undisputed in BrE. So I guess it's not substandard in the UK. I have never heard anyone using different to in the United States though. I guess it makes sense if you think of it as "different when compared to."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Different to is undisputed in BrE???

    It's evidently time to repeat panj's excellent quote from the OED (see eg post 70):

    The usual construction is now with from; that with to (after unlike, dissimilar to) is found in writers of all ages, and is frequent colloquially, but is by many considered incorrect. The construction with than (after other than), is found in Fuller, Addison, Steele, De Foe, Richardson, Goldsmith, Miss Burney, Coleridge, Southey, De Quincey, Carlyle, Thackeray, Newman, Trench, and Dasent, among others: see F. Hall Mod. English iii. 82.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Different to is undisputed in BrE???

    It's evidently time to repeat panj's excellent quote from the OED (see eg post 70):
    I'd go with Panj's quote too, but I'd add my own comment from well over a year ago:

    I would only write "different from" to avoid being stoned by prescriptivists. :D

    Gaer
    That was my attempted humorous response to the whole thread, which was already quite circular and continues to be.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    In and after WW II, at least in London, different from was the only form I ever heard used. When I went up to Hull in Yorkshire in 1955, it struck me that all the locals were saying different to, which was entirely new to me. Over the years different to migrated southwards, gradually replacing different from or , at least, becoming an equally popular form, until different than started to creep in from the States maybe 25 years ago. Now one hears politicians, top British scientists and other experts using it on the BBC. I even heard the quintessentially English Joanna Lumley use it last week! I, personally, still never use any form but different from, but this seems to be obsolescent in the UK.
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage, Evans, Bergen and Evans, C. Random House,NY 1957.
    cuchuflete:
    You quote (in post #11) from the above tome: 'How different things appear in Washington than in London', but this isn’t comparable because it refers to a difference between the appearances of Washington and London, not a ‘Washington different than London’. In any event, Keynes, as an essayist, would have written in his own style and might have allowed himself some prosaic licence in favour of it (although as a mathematician he should have known better than to use than in that sentence, which, with all due respect to JMK notwithstanding, I would have written thus: “How different things appear in Washington by comparison with London Town.”)

    In panjandrum’s post #45 he says that the OED lists “15 notable writers” who used ‘different than’; well , that may be—but are they contemporary writers? Were the usages of the same construction as the phrases that have been used throughout this thread? Were any of the usages ‘contrived’ (i.e. did they depend on style or poetic licence)? Could any of the sentences have been written differently from and better than the renderings chosen so as to avoid the confrontational dilemma with our three prepositions?

    from LouisaB post #49
    However, I'd still personally push for 'different from', because (I think) it's following the usual linguistic form for 'ent', ie an effective participle, more usually expressed by 'ing'. It's used to mean simply 'differing' - and surely you would differ from? It's that old thing about 'to' bringing you nearer, and 'from' taking you further away that I mentioned before.
    But, on the other hand, going to takes you from!

    from cuchuflete post #64
    This thread is similar to others and different from threads about applesauce cake.
    Is everyone making a note of this?...


    from mjscott post #65
    Yeah, cuchuflete!
    Different pushes them away from each other--
    --similar brings them together!
    ...and this?


    As far as I’m concerned, the only way to say it is different from, because of apart from, away from, removed from, separate from...

    ... closely followed, if necessary, by different to,

    ... but different than, never. Ever.
     
    Last edited:

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    ... but different than, never. Ever.
    Never's a big word. What about Cuchuflete's Washington London example that you say (correctly in my opinion) is not quite the same thing? How about "he is even more different than he was yesterday"? Perhaps not the most elegant of sentences, but is it ungrammatical?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    But that’s a comparative!
    Sure, that's my point!:) I'm saying that you can't just proscribe "different than" you have to take its syntactic context into account. So it's not as easy as telling people to avoid the phrase all together.
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, sorry, I disallow that. We’re talking about different from/than/to, not more than, less than. Nor differenter than!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    No, sorry, I disallow that. We’re talking about different from/than/to, not more than, less than. Nor differenter than!
    Just as I disallow the statement "but different than, never. Ever", for the reason that it is incorrect. It's a little more than pedantry - I think that the reason that there is such confusion over this comes, at least in part, from confusion over the syntactic context (and difference in local usage of course).
     
    Last edited:

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Aha! I see what you’re getting at. But if you re-read the last three lines if that post (#81), you’ll see that I wrote (in light-hearted vein after the body of the post),

    As far as I’m concerned, the only was to say it is different from, because of apart from, away from, removed from, separate from...

    ... closely followed, if necessary, by different to,

    ... but different than, never. Ever.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You can count on us, foreigners, to keep "different from" alive. :)

    Google search:

    12.300.000 de "different to"
    27.900.000 de "different than"
    92.700.000 de "different from"
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Just as I disallow the statement "but different than, never. Ever", for the reason that it is incorrect. It's a little more than pedantry - I think that the reason that there is such confusion over this comes, at least in part, from confusion over the syntactic context (and difference in local usage of course).
    Tim, back in November of 2006, I wrote:

    "I would only write 'different from' to avoid being stoned by prescriptivists."

    Actually, I really do write only "different from" now, because I've been trying to avoid being hit by stones for the past two years. ;)

    In fact, I am now a "from" crusader and will start my personal compaign to teach all Australians to avoid the dreaded "different to".

    These things are *important*. The future of our language is at stake. :D
     

    Victoria32

    Senior Member
    English (UK) New Zealand
    In and after WW II, at least in London, different from was the only form I ever heard used. When I went up to Hull in Yorkshire in 1955, it struck me that all the locals were saying different to, which was entirely new to me. Over the years different to migrated southwards, gradually replacing different from or , at least, becoming an equally popular form, until different than started to creep in from the States maybe 25 years ago. Now one hears politicians, top British scientists and other experts using it on the BBC. I even heard the quintessentially English Joanna Lumley use it last week! I, personally, still never use any form but different from, but this seems to be obsolescent in the UK.
    It seems there's been movement in this thread that I hadn't seen... As far as New Zealand goes, things have changed in the direction Arrius mentions. The influence of Hollywood and Microsoft and the fact that a good three quarters of all New Zealanders have a rather little brother to big one attitude towards all things American means, that I constantly hear 'different than' here in New Zealand. There's utterly not point in my telling a 20-something that 'different than' is wrong, she's heard it on The O.C., 90210 etc, and she won't be persuaded. (As someone said on the radio, probably ironically, years ago), "If it's American, it must be good!"...
    Grr..
    Vicky
     
    Just to add my opinion, as a BE native speaker, different from is ALWAYS correct. Different than sounds too american and although a growing number of people use different to in England, I don't view this as being correct.

    In my opinion, different to [noun] = different from that which [is adjective]. Different to can only be used in this context, but only where it is VERY informal, and it should never be used in written English.
     

    LuisVillegas

    Member
    Mexican Spanish
    Hi, everybody.

    Here is a good explanation taken from: http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxdiffer.html

    "Different from" is the construction that no one will object to.
    "Different to" is fairly common informally in the U.K., but rare in
    the U.S. <-- deleted -->

    The Collins Cobuild Bank of English shows choice of preposition
    after "different" to be distributed as follows:

    "from"

    U.K. writing 87.6
    U.K. speech 68.8
    U.S. writing 92.7
    U.S. speech 69.3

    "to"

    U.K. writing 10.8
    U.K. speech 27.3
    U.S. writing 0.3
    U.S. speech 0.6

    "than"

    U.K. writing 1.5
    U.K. speech 3.9
    U.S. writing 7.0
    U.S. speech 30.1
    However, Google search results tell that the order of usage is the following:

    1. Different from: The most used.
    2. Different than: The second most used.
    3. Different to: The third most used.

    Best regards,

    Luis R. Villegas H.
    Mexico.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    That's the second time the Collins Cobuild statistics have been quoted in this thread (see post #72).
    I'd better check the BNC and COCA.
    BNC
    to - 483
    from - 3278
    than - 51
    COCA
    to - 349
    from - 11939
    than - 3283


    johndot wondered if the OED examples I referred to were contemporary writers.
    The construction with than (after other than), is found in Fuller, Addison, Steele, De Foe, Richardson, Goldsmith, Miss Burney, Coleridge, Southey, De Quincey, Carlyle, Thackeray, Newman, Trench, and Dasent, among others: see F. Hall Mod. English iii. 82
    Hmm. Even stretching the definition of contemporary a long way, I think not :)
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Barron TOFLE says that the correct form is different from.
    The entry "different from, than, to" in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage concludes with the following:
    In summary we can say that there need have been no problem here at all, since all three expressions have been in standard use since the 16th and 17th centuries and all three continue to be in standard use. Mencken 1963 (abridged) comments on a flurry in the newspapers over different than that took place in 1922. Mencken cites with approval this comment from the New York Sun:
    The excellent tribe of grammarians, the precisians and all others who strive to be correct and correctors, have as much power to prohibit a single word or phrase as a gray squirrel has to be put out Orion with a flicker of its tail.
     

    Zong

    New Member
    Taiwanese, Mandarian
    I am not a native English speaker but am interested in this topic. I am just curious whether the omission of the phrases in parentheses in the following sentences is grammatically allowed or not.

    A is different (in respect) to B.
    A is different (with regard) to B.
    A is different (with reference) to B.

    If the answer is affirmative, then "A is different to B" should be considered as grammatically correct. What do you think?
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    I believe that the elimination of the words in parentheses necessitates a change in preposition.
    A is different from B every time!
    Although in your first two examples different to sits well when you open the brackets.
    Your third example makes no grammatical sense to me.

    As my mother drummed into me: "Similar to, but different from" !!
     
    These three phrases can be very simply explained: different from is the most common and is standard in both American and British usage; different than is standard in American and British usage, especially when a clause follows than, but is more frequent in American usage ; different to is standard in British usage but rare in American usage. Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage
     
    Last edited:

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Different to IS very common within some parts of English society, as is "them girls are nice" or "the ship sunk without trace".
    In British English, I would say the majority of educated speakers use different to these days or less frequently different than, and different from which I always say seems to be on the way out. But such people would not say either of your other two examples unless they were trying to be funny.
     

    angel8848

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Hello there,

    "The competition was quite different than any others I had entered."
    Could any of you help me with " different than, differerent to / from of the above statement?

    I get confused there because I'm not sure whether 'quite different than' is a comparative there in any sense.

    I'd very much appreciate it if you could explain to me.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top