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Different from, Different than,

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Different from, Different than,

Postby KatyBr » Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:08 pm

any good rules to go by? I keep hearing people say "this is different than..." and it sounds odd, to me

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Postby tcward » Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:27 pm

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

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.”


-Tim
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Postby tcward » Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:37 pm

I have to admit, I prefer different than, when different is operating as a comparative. This follows the commonly exercised rules in place for other comparatives.

Their house is smaller than ours.

His dog is bigger than mine.

Her car is cleaner than his.


For superlatives, the phrase is conjoined with of, not than.

His speech was the dullest of the three.

Her hair is the longest of the four girls.

Their son's eyes are the most remarkable of all the children in class.


Only when the quality is distance would we use from or to.

-Tim
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Postby KatyBr » Thu Mar 17, 2005 5:06 pm

OK, but isn't there a Better way to say it, I'm having some back-to-back senior moments hrere.

This clock is different than the one we bought when we first moved here.
It just sounds awkward.

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Postby tcward » Thu Mar 17, 2005 5:47 pm

No.

-Tim :P
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Postby KatyBr » Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:38 pm

but then
"This clock is different from the one we bought when we first moved here. "
sounds odd too, I meant isn't there a better phraseology? Maybe?
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Postby gailr » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:11 pm

How about: We had a different clock when we first moved here. Then we thought it was time for a change and bought this one.
-gailr
Who is not buying any new clocks, despite a recent move to a new time zone, after seeing all the trouble it causes!
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Postby tcward » Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:05 am

As long as you buy the same clock, gailr, you won't cause any trouble.

-Tim ;)
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Postby Verbum » Sat Mar 19, 2005 10:55 pm

Tim,

Granted that excellent writers have used "diiferent than", I will not serve my best sherry to those who favor that construction. One has standards. :wink:

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In principio erat Verbum
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Postby tcward » Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:00 am

I just realized something as I read through Verbum's reply.

If you choose the verb form, differs, then, to me, it only sounds natural and right to say differs from.

-Tim

P.S. Wow, right after I posted this it occurred to me that sometimes it "feels" ok to say "differs with". So, naturally, I did a Google search and came up with 5,360,000 hits for "differs from", and only 365,000 hits for "differs with"... Interesting.
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Postby Kaitain » Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:56 am

It should be "different from". End of.

"Different than" has become widespread in North America in the last few decades. Using "than" would make sense only if one of the two targets was the more different of the two and the other the less different. In other words, it would only be applicable if the word were "differenter" and a rank or ordering was implied. This is not the case. (A and B are not the same as each other, i.e. they are different objects, but neither is "more different" than the other. Cf "bigger", "faster" etc.)

"Different from" does not sound odd at all, or should not. Perhaps the lamentable spread of "different than" has made it sound odd to our ears. Read articles or listen to speech from fifty years ago in the States and you will not see or hear "different than". Of course, language does evolve, but "different than" just makes no real sense.

The Brits don't use this corruption, although they do have their own corrupted form, "different to". (It should be "similar to" and "different from".) This is nowhere near as widespread as "different than" in the States and Canada, though.

The spread of incorrect grammar and expressions is pretty interesting. One of my favourites is the hilariously backward "could care less", a lazy corruption of the correct "couldn't care less" that completely inverts its meaning.
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Postby Stargzer » Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:54 pm

Welcome aboard, Kaitain!

Kaitain wrote: . . . The spread of incorrect grammar and expressions is pretty interesting. One of my favourites is the hilariously backward "could care less", a lazy corruption of the correct "couldn't care less" that completely inverts its meaning.


I could care less, if I felt like trying, but I don't care enough to try. :wink:
Regards//Larry

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