"different than" - regional or wrong?

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Woods
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"different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Woods » 2019-04-25, 13:36

Not that long ago I realised I was always using the adjective "different" followed by "than" rather than "from." At some point I figured out "from" should rather be used, so I started saying that something is different from something and not that something is different than something. But then I figured some other people are actually still saying "different than" in spite of my realisation.

So here are all the exaples from Oxford Dictionaries:

‘the car is different from anything else on the market’
‘A carrot grown in one place is going to be different from one grown somewhere else.’
‘As the only European to do so he was different from the rest but in other ways he was just the same in that he had a story to tell.’
‘For all these reasons we have a business cycle that is quite different from the rest of Europe.’
‘This is very different from the way in which domestic machines were received in the past.’
‘Huge sums have been won and lost between them and this day would be no different from all the others.’
‘Will there come a time when the pain will be less or even different from what it is now?’
‘For me it's not that different from producing a painting or performing a piece of music.’
‘It's very different from here, and high on the list of reasons why I need to move to a big city soon.’
‘It's different from acute medicine in that you do get to know families very well indeed.’
‘I was an academic and working all the time and that made me different from everyone else.’
‘Women are different from men, but it is time to say farewell to the politics of difference.’
‘Needless to say, my idea of a perfect holiday might be different from that of other people.’
‘The new improved model works in a rather different way from the original version.’
‘The story was a bit different from the traditional tale but it was still cracking!’
‘This is quite different from Europe, where eating on the slopes will cost you an arm and a leg.’


As you can see there's no "different than" whatsoever, so I'd assume it's just non-native / wrong?


And I can also see something I'm absolutely not used to - "different to":

‘A good comic book gets into your brain in a manner quite different to a novel or movie.’
‘He says that life in Bolton is not too different to that in Austria, except for the weather.’

Seems to be used the same way as "different from" - so I guess this is the only alternative conjunction?

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby linguoboy » 2019-04-25, 14:28

This is a pretty good summary of the usage: https://www.grammar.com/different-from-vs-different-than/.

(I'm a native speaker of American English and I use "different than" fairly indiscriminately for both clauses and noun phrases. "Different to" is utterly foreign to my speech but I recognise it as ordinary UK usage.)
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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Woods » 2019-04-27, 7:37

Well, it should be perfectly fine to use "different than" then.

It's strange that Oxford Dictionaries have not given any examples of it. Usually they mention American things too, they just point out that it's American.

I guess I should always check Merriam-Webster right after Oxford when I have such doubts.

Nonetheless I've switched to "different from" now, there's no turning back :)

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby TeneReef » 2019-05-01, 12:19

The old house looks different from what I remember. =
(Brit) The old house looks different to what I remember. =
(US) The old house looks different than I remember.


http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/different
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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-10-09, 7:37

I wouldn't use different than, personally.

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Babbsagg » 2019-12-12, 13:00

Interesting... in my understanding they're all interchangeable really, I prefer "different to" and sometimes use "different from", but never "different than". "Different to" is apparently a British thing, didn't know that.
Thank you for correcting mistakes!

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Gormur » 2020-04-26, 17:24

Different from is the only one I understand. Using than wouldn't make sense because it's a particle
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-04-27, 2:19

Gormur wrote:Different from is the only one I understand. Using than wouldn't make sense because it's a particle

I don’t understand what you mean by the word “particle”.
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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Gormur » 2020-04-27, 13:13

A word that's used with comparatives I guess. I didn't feel like getting overly complicated with my definition :)
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-04-27, 15:07

Gormur wrote:A word that's used with comparatives I guess. I didn't feel like getting overly complicated with my definition :)

The trouble is "particle" has no defined meaning in linguistics; it's just a catch-all category for words which don't fit into any other defined category. So saying "Using than wouldn't make sense because it's a particle" is a meaningless statement. If you don't ever say what is and isn't a "particle" in your analysis, there's no basis for making generalisations about what a "particle" can and can't do.

Traditionally, than (which in origin is just a variant form of then) was considered a conjunction because it linked clauses, e.g. "He is taller than I am." But the verb in the subclause began to be left out as understood, e.g. "He is taller than I". In contemporary English, subject forms are rarely used except immediately before finite verbs, so once the verb was gone, the path was paved for replacing the subject pronoun with an object form, i.e. "He is taller than me". At this point, it no longer made sense to consider than a conjunction introducing a clause with an understood verb and it became reinterpreted as a preposition. Prepositional phrases are used after adjectives all the time (e.g. "He is jealous of me", "She is far from me", "They were mean to me") and this usage fit right in with that pattern.

In short, the traditional analysis explains the usage of than be treating it as either a conjunction or preposition, depending on the context. There's no reason to assign it to some undefined third category and even less to use that as justification that its use "doesn't make sense" here when plainly folks understand that usage just fine.
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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Gormur » 2020-04-29, 17:05

Indeed. I really don't agree or disagree with any definition by prescriptivists or linguists of more morphological persuasions I guess you could say

Also I thought somewhere I've read that than came from þan in Old English, but that seems odd even to me; I quite enjoy seeing these Anglo-Saxon words come to life probably more than most do

I don't know. In my mind I still see then and than as different words. As a matter of fact, these are two words I could never mix up since I pronounce them differently :hmm:
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-04-29, 20:30

Gormur wrote:Also I thought somewhere I've read that than came from þan in Old English, but that seems odd even to me; I quite enjoy seeing these Anglo-Saxon words come to life probably more than most do

OE þan was, in origin, a variant of þon, which developed several more variants including þanne and þænne. This variation continued through the mediaeval period. The arbitrary distinction between than and then was first introduced in the 17th century.

Gormur wrote:In my mind I still see then and than as different words. As a matter of fact, these are two words I could never mix up since I pronounce them differently :hmm:

Well, that differentiates you from many native speakers of English, who make no distinction. (In my own pin-pen merged speech, both are pronounced [ðɪn].)
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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Gormur » 2020-04-29, 21:03

I wish I knew IPA well but I say then like [ðen] and than is [ðæn] with what I think of as vowel-raising, so it isn't as emphatic as the than [ðæn] ordinarily heard especially when reading aloud

I'm sure that isn't correct
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-04-29, 21:15

Gormur wrote:I wish I knew IPA well but I say then like [ðen] and than is [ðæn] with what I think of as vowel-raising, so it isn't as emphatic as the than [ðæn] ordinarily heard especially when reading aloud

With /æn/, raising usually involves breaking. This article discusses various possibilities, with audio clips so you can compare your own speech without needing a working knowledge of IPA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki//%C3%A6/_raising.
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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby Gormur » 2020-04-29, 21:21

linguoboy wrote:
Gormur wrote:I wish I knew IPA well but I say then like [ðen] and than is [ðæn] with what I think of as vowel-raising, so it isn't as emphatic as the than [ðæn] ordinarily heard especially when reading aloud

With /æn/, raising usually involves breaking. This article discusses various possibilities, with audio clips so you can compare your own speech without needing a working knowledge of IPA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki//%C3%A6/_raising.
Yeah those charts are confusing, especially because with a word like stand I don't have raising (this word can't be raised in California English) but with than, I do. To me this is just dialectal, but I was more interested to know of symbols to represent raising. I won't assume they exist though :hmm:
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: "different than" - regional or wrong?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-04-29, 22:57

Gormur wrote:To me this is just dialectal, but I was more interested to know of symbols to represent raising. I won't assume they exist though :hmm:

Of course they exist. They're IPA symbols. You have the tools to learn them if you so wish.
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