[DWJ] different

rohina rohinax at gmail.com
Thu Nov 5 13:27:08 EST 2009

I was educated in Australia, and was told "different to" was preferable to
"different than". Do I remember why? I do not.


On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 9:48 AM, Minnow <minnow at belfry.org.uk> wrote:

> Melissa wrote:
> >(See how I said "different from"?  I know all-y'all on the other side of
> the
> >Atlantic say "different to" and I am always conscious of the difference
> when
> >I say or write it.)
> At a very early age in Englasnd I got quietly taught to say "different
> from", and I was even given a reason for using that rather than "different
> to".
> If instead of "This is different [from/to] that", you rephrase and say
> "This differs [from/to] that", said my primary teacher, then one of them
> makes sense, the other doesn't.  Something that differs is going away
> *from* being another thing, not going *to*[wards] being it.
> She didn't even mention "different than", perhaps because it didn't occur
> to her that anybody said it any more than "this differs than that".  (It
> does turn up in literature going back for centuries, but a lot of things in
> Austen or Smollett or whoever else aren't phrased how we would phrase them
> now, after all.)
> It made sense to me at the time (and still does, really) and I went along
> with it, and I haven't ever regretted it or found that it made what I said
> difficult for anyone to understand.
> Fowler in the editions of 1926 and 1965 says that preferring "different
> from" is "a superstition", and that "different" followed by "to" or "from"
> or "than" has been used by authors throughout the centuries, and also
> trashes my dear old teacher's rationalisation about it as "involves a hasty
> and ill thought out generalisation", but since the language is English, I
> can't see why one word should be expected to behave just like other words
> of the same class (derivatives) and I would have thought that "different"
> not behaving like all the other derivatives couldn't be called a
> generalisation anyhow.
> Minnow
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