Monday, September 10, 2012

Does it annoy you when you hear someone say "different than"?

I was taught that "different from" is the correct usage when comparing two things, so I did indeed feel annoyed when I would hear people say "different than".  But today, I'm stealing information from one of my favourite web sites, The Oxford Dictionary online.  Here's what they have to say about the matter:

Different from, than, or to?

Is there any difference between the expressions different from, different than, and different to? Is one of the three ‘more correct’ than the others?
In practice, different from is by far the most common of the three, in both British and American English:
We want to demonstrate that this government is different from previous governments. (British English)
This part is totally different from anything else that he's done. (American English)
Different than is mainly used in American English:
Teenagers certainly want to look different than their parents.
Different to is much more common in British English than American English:
In this respect the Royal Academy is no different to any other major museum.
Some people criticize different than as incorrect but there’s no real justification for this view. There’s little difference in sense between the three expressions, and all of them are used by respected writers.

My take on it is that because I love and prefer the Oxford English Dictionary, even if it doesn't contain Canadian spellings, I'll go with their point of view on this grammatical question.  I guess the cat is out of the bag regarding my biases, but that's the beauty of Canadian English because both British and American spellings and usage are considered to be correct, so we have the freedom to choose :o)

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