Correct preposition following different? Redux
I’d like to go back to an old question which was discussed here in 2011. What is the correct preposition to use with “different?”
Every time I hear the BBC’s “different to” it grates on me. I distinctly remember my 6th Grade teacher, Mrs. Murphy, explaining to us that “different” takes “from” because in arithmetic, when you subtract one number from another you obtain a difference. Her analogy was faulty, of course; but her grammar was correct. The abuse she was trying to correct was “different than.” I never heard “different to” until relatively recently, on the BBC World Service.
The consensus of the 2011 discussion seemed to be that “different to” is British usage and “different from” is American.
Well – yes and no. I’ve gone through some quotation websites looking for 19th and early 20th century British examples and could find not one “different to.” They all use “different from.”
I did also find this, however, from the 1908 edition of Fowler’s “The King’s English.”
“. . .’different to’ is regarded by many newspaper editors and others in authority as a solecism, and is therefore better avoided by those to whom the approval of such authorities is important. It is undoubtedly gaining ground, and will probably displace ‘different from’ in no long time; perhaps, however, the conservatism that still prefers from is not yet to be named pedantry.
Well, that was prescient – if you concede that 100 years counts as “no long time” when it comes to the English language.
(In response to some of those 2011 posts which mentioned “more different than” as an acceptable use of “different than”: in that case “than” refers to “more” not “different.”)