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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.”) 

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'Different to' is still avoided by educated Britons. The fact that it's used on the B.B.C. doesn't surprise me.

Skeeter Lewis December 23, 2012, 11:58pm

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We watch a lot of British TV -- not just the BBC -- and we have British friends, most of them Oxbridge. Our impression is that "different to" is becoming standard usage across the pond.

[Five minutes later.] Well -- to prove myself right, I just went to the Guardian website, searched for "different" and proved myself wrong. The Guardian uses "different from." Same with the London Review of Books. So, you are right. Our friends must be picking it up from the broadcast media. We will begin pointing out their error. .

Denkof Zwemmen December 24, 2012, 12:33am

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@Skeeter Lewis - well here's one educated Brit that doesn't avoid "different to" in certain circumstances. Yes, most of us use "different from" to compare two things, for example - "This one is different from that one", but when it is followed by a clause, especially a "what" clause, I find myself drawn to "to" - "This is different to what I expected". Now whereas this may not find favour with Americans, it is perfectly acceptable in British English.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary - "It's very different to what I'm used to"

Macmillan Dictionaries - "American English is slightly different to British English." (rather apt in the circumstances that one!)

Longman - "Her jacket's different to mine."

Chambers - In current British English, different is followed more or less equally by 'from' or 'to' - "He was, in fact, totally different from Keith" " This is very different to the ideal situation" "The next day was Christmas Eve, but it was no different to any other day except that the shop was very, very busy."

Practical English Usage (Michael Swan) - "American football is very different from/to soccer"

New Fowler's puts forward reasons why both different from and different than can have their uses: "The commonly expressed view that different should only be followed by from and never to or than is not supportable in the face of past and present evidence of logic, though the distribution of the constructions is not straightforward"

@Denkof Zwemmen - I believe "different from" is the most common usage on both sides of the Atlantic. Ngram viewer show "different from" well in the lead in British published books. But most modern British authorities equally allow "different to" in British English. "Different than", on the other hand is mainly an American usage. And you slightly cherry-picked that 1908 quote from Fowler. Just before that he wrote "There is no essential reason whatever why [different] should not be as well followed by to as by from. But ...". -

From the Guardian Style Guide: "different from is traditionally the correct form; different to is widely accepted nowadays ... -

And the title of one Guardian article - "Why writing an app is different to writing a children's picture book" -

And from the London Review of Books - "The articles you seek may appear further down the list of results than you expect if your requirements are different to those of the majority of users. The London Review of Books search function does not recognise ‘wildcards’." -

And a couple of Telegraph article titles - "The skull bone is different to the hip bone" and "Libya: Is the tale of Tripoli different to any other conflict?" - the latter article by John Simpson -"different to" the telegraph

The Economist Style Guide, however, is not so forgiving - from and only from - and I could find no mention of "different to" in the Times. But I'm not a journalist, so I don't feel bound by any house rules, only what is acceptable in BrE.

Warsaw Will December 24, 2012, 2:54am

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Erratum - that New Fowler's quote should of course have read: "in the face of past and present evidence or of logic"
Addendum - language evolves

Warsaw Will December 24, 2012, 2:59am

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Memo to self - I must control this urge to begin every sentence with "And"

Warsaw Will December 24, 2012, 3:20am

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Of course many Brits use 'different to'. I hear them doing so. But for my generation it's a solecism.
I am forever starting sentences with a conjunction, Will, solecism or not. Nobody's perfect...

Skeeter Lewis December 24, 2012, 8:06am

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@Skeeter Lewis - I have no problem with starting sentences with a conjunction, and don't regard it as an error, but perhaps three sentences in a row with the same conjunction is a bit much. :)

You say that for your generation it's a solecism but that seems to me to be flying in the face of all the evidence I presented. And just so you know, I'm over retiral age myself, and had a very traditional education. But there were certain things we were taught at school that are simply not the case today, although I don't particularly remember being taught anything about different.

The fact that some people have objected to "different to" doesn't necessarily make it an error. In his later book, Fowler (1926) "stoutly defends 'different to' " (MWDEU) and it is obviously part of standard British English (except perhaps in the Economist). You don't have to use it if you don't like it, but there is little basis for calling it a "solecism" (and by implication saying that people like me are wrong, or, God forbid - uneducated).


Warsaw Will December 24, 2012, 10:05am

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Will - I would not presume to cast doubt on your learning, which is evident. Perhaps it's simply that some of us are slower than others to accept change. The reasons for that are too various to be pinned down.
By the way - Happy Christmas.

Skeeter Lewis December 24, 2012, 7:02pm

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@ Skeeter Lewis - I must say I do enjoy our sword-crossing sessions (and occasional agreements), and wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year in return. :))

Warsaw Will December 24, 2012, 9:54pm

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As the originator of the original thread, an educated Scot, and, to be honest, something of a purist I still cringe at the use of "different to".
While there may be a case for "different than" in avoiding cumersome statements like "different from that which" I can see no justification for "different to".
This solecism, which I don't believe has ever been taught in a Scottish school, has now spread north from England to Scotland.
There are no doubt many sources whose authors maintain that "different to" is perfectly correct bu I would venture so suggest that there are just as many, if not in fact more, which maintain the reverse.
Apples differ from oranges, therefore apples are different from oranges. Simple and logical.

Hairy Scot December 29, 2012, 12:50pm

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There are a couple of interesting graphs here :-
Make of them what you will.


Hairy Scot December 29, 2012, 1:53pm

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@Hairy Scot - so you like Stan's graphs, but not his conclusions, apparently. But I'm glad you've found Sentence First; it's a fascinating blog, and one of the few linguistics blogs with a BrE slant (well, Irish).

People on your side of this argument do seem to like the word "solecism", don't you? - I wonder which meaning you have most in mind - "a mistake in the use of language in speech or writing" or "an example of bad manners or unacceptable behaviour".

Let me go back to one of my "mantras", as you like to call them - If you don't like it, don't use it. But that doesn't mean it's an error (let's call a spade a spade, shall we).

And if I could also just repeat that most of the time I use "from" as well, and I can't imagine myself saying "apples are different to oranges". But before certain "what" clauses I find "to" more natural, "solecism" or not.

I've already given several references to sources where "different to" is quite allowable. I'll add just one more, from Michael Quinlan's highly respected World Wide Words - "The usual advice these days is that from is irreproachable. To is unobjectionable in British English but may need thought if it is to appear in the US".

You say there are just as many, if not more, that maintain the reverse, so let's have one or two. Otherwise, I'm afraid it's just an assertion. One educated Scot against another. Have a good Hogmanay when it comes.

Warsaw Will December 29, 2012, 8:32pm

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@Warsaw Will
I think Stan's graphs certainly indicate the growth of something.
Perhaps cussedness as they say across the pond.
As to Stan's conclusions; I have no problem with those.
My use of the word solecism was perhaps ill advised, it is a bit too strong for this particular issue.
As for use: I don't like it, so I don't use it.
However whenever the topic arises I will of course maintain that "different from" is preferable to "different to", and that "different than" is a good way to avoid cumbersome constructs.
I know that many maintain that there need be no logic in language, nevertheless I can see no logic in the use of "different to".
Most sources do in fact echo Quinlon's advice, and since I have no wish to be reproached I tend to follow that advice. I have yet to find one which suggests that any other form is preferable to "different from".

Perhaps the best we can hope for is an uneasy truce, so let's agree to disagree.

Awrrabest for 2013.


Hairy Scot December 30, 2012, 6:34am

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I often wonder how many issues such as this arise from:-
a) someone coining what they think is a "smart" word or phrase
b) someone using a word or phrase wrongly
and then for that aberation to be propagated by those who know no better or who have a subconscious need to be contrary.
Examples of this would include "hone/home in", "you have another thing/think coming", "signs/signage", "with(in) regards to/regarding" etc.

Just a thought: use it/don't use it.

Hairy Scot December 30, 2012, 8:56am

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@Hairy Scot - Hi. I don't think "different to" falls into your PS category, as it's pretty old. It seems in fact to be an older usage (1520) than "different from" (which is first attested to in Shakespeare) (MWDEU).

I'd like, however, to try a different tack. If anyone had asked me a year ago what preposition follows "different", I would have answered "from" without thinking. I wasn't even aware that I ever used "different to" till I was taken to task by your good self for writing - "and I think the position of the subjunctive is very different in British English, to that in American English" on a thread about "was /were". I was a bit miffed, as I consider myself a reasonably educated speaker of Standard English, so I did a bit of investigating in dictionaries and usage guides, which seemed to exonerate me. As Quinlon says, its use is unobjectionable, and Fowler seemed to think the same.

But what really interests me is that I would usually use "from", so why did I use "to" in that case? And I can only imagine it had something to do with the following "that". Now if that's the case, and if I'm typical, it's not so much a matter of some (OK most) people using "from" and others "to", rather than that some people like me occasionally use "to" in certain circumstances. (I don't think I ever use "than", which is not really surprising, as this is mainly American usage). If this is the case, the low showing of "to" in Ngram (and I have to admit in Corpora studies) might make a bit more sense.

So I'm now having a bit of a closer look at how it is used, whether it is more likely to occur in certain constructions. With any luck I'll get enough stuff together to post something on my blog. Oh, the joys of the Internet! What does seem quite clear though, is that Googling "different to" seems to bring up results mainly in the media and on academic and government related websites. And it seems rather popular in Australia. Oh, and David Cameron likes it (but I don't know if that helps or hinders my case)!

As for solecism, it might interest you to know that it is the 83,234th most common word in English (according to, which makes me feel a bit better (OK, I had to look it up!). So, what with redux, which is also a new one on me, this thread is turning out to be quite educational.

Warsaw Will December 30, 2012, 10:28am

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In a moment of madness I have decided to use some of my pet hates in the is post.


At the end of the day, when all's (does that need an apostrophe?) said and done, and not withstanding arguments current at this moment in time, it behooves me to say that there are probably worse solecisms than that under discussion here.

I think I'd rather eschew the support of Cameron or any other politician.

Anent the works of WS and other old documents; I wonder how many have been subject to the vagaries of the printer and transcriber throughout their life.
Just think of the dfference it would have made to the RC church had celebrate survived instead of celibate.


Hairy Scot December 30, 2012, 11:25am

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@By and large, at this moment of time, once you've drilled down, pushed the envelope, thought outside the box and kept me in the loop, I might agree. All it needs is some blue sky thinking going forward, followed by a good brain dump and ideas cascade, and then if we all got our ducks in a row, we could really leverage this debate .

But I rather like the sound of anent. :))

Warsaw Will December 30, 2012, 8:11pm

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anent anent.
Rather like it myself. It's a shame it has fallen into disuse.
WRT just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Hairy Scot December 30, 2012, 8:25pm

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WRT - another one I had to look up! Happy New Year :)

Warsaw Will December 31, 2012, 10:15pm

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@ Hairy Scot

"with(in) regards to/regarding"
use it/don't use it

You're not suggesting that 'with regards to' is correct usage, are you?

Joshing February 28, 2013, 2:44pm

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@ Joshing

Certainly not!
I was merely quoting examples of "wrong usage" vs /"correct usage" where I feel that the "wrong usages" have come about through failed attempts to sound clever and/or different and have been maintained by those who know no better and which by dint of "common usage" will probably one day become acceptable.
I do of course include "different to" in that category.

Hairy Scot February 28, 2013, 2:56pm

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@Hairy Scot - 'I do of course include "different to" in that category.'

Then you're at odds with just about every authority on British English I've seen. Here's what Fowler had to say in the original 1926 version:

"That different can only be followed by from and not by to is a superstition. Not only is to 'found in writers of all ages' (OED); the principle it is rejected on (You do not say 'differ to'; therefore you cannot say 'different to') involves a hasty and ill-defined generalisation. ... This does not imply that different from is wrong; on the contrary it is 'now usual' (OED); but it is only so owing to the dead set made against different to by mistaken critics."

Now I'm certainly no slave to Fowler, but on this one I think he got it right. I'm still waiting to see any evidence to show that it is wrong. So far, all we've had are assertions.

Warsaw Will March 1, 2013, 3:10am

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OK, I will rephrase that.
In my opinion "different to" belongs in that category.

In fact, these "authorities" are also merely expressing opinions.
Just about everyone in my generation, and the school teachers who taught us would seem to have the same opinion, or superstition.
Apart from not sounding right, it also flies in the face of logic, and even though logic may not always apply in language it is not, and need not be, absent.
I still await proof of correctness.
As for assertions: are they not just strongly expressed opinions?
As for opinions: are they not just like haemorrhoids?
I note you say "just about every authority on British English I've seen". Perhaps a case of finding what you seek, or perhaps indicative of the fact that the "antis" feel a burning need to state their case as often as possible.

As I said in a previous post, "Just a thought."

Hairy Scot March 1, 2013, 7:15am

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@Hairy Scot - "I still await proof of correctness". Is the onus not rather on the people who criticise something to provide evidence that it is wrong. It is in fact those lambast "different to" who are the "antis" here, not those of us who use it and defend it. This all started when you pulled me up for using "different to" several months ago. We "to" users just want to get on with speaking the language we know without being criticised on no better basis than someone else's prejudices or hearsay. But we constantly find the need to defend ourselves.

I have quoted all the major British dictionaries, various reputable usage guides, newspaper style guides, as well as newspaper usage, and people like Michael Quinlan. (Are these the people who "feel a burning desire to state their case as often as possible?"). Their's may only be opinions like yours or mine, but they tend to carry quite a lot of weight, especially when they are nearly all in agreement.

On the other hand, as far as I can see, your side have not produced one single authority to support your argument. You and Skeeter Lewis may not like "different to", but you haven't produced one shred of evidence to prove it's incorrect. It may not sound right to you, but it sounds fine to me. And I fail to see how it flies in the face of logic. A reminder from Oxford Online:

"Different to is common in Britain, but is disliked by traditionalists. The argument against it is based on the relation of different to differ, which is used with from; but this is a flawed argument which is contradicted by other pairs of words such as accord (with) and according (to)." (much what Fowler said)

You say that that my evidence is perhaps a case of finding what I seek. So perhaps you can enlighten me where I should look apart from the six major British dictionaries, Fowler, original and updated, MWDEU, WorldWideWords, British quality newspapers etc. I may have found only what I sought, but you people haven't even looked!

When I said "just about every authority on British English I've seen", at least I have provided quotes or links. But then you say "Just about everyone in my generation, and the school teachers who taught us would seem to have the same opinion, or superstition." How can you make such a sweeping statement? Have you asked them? I, for one, am probably of your generation or older. I'm sorry, but you provide absolutely nothing to back that claim up.

It's very noticeable how the descriptivists on this forum give reference after reference to back their opinions, but the prescriptivists rarely if ever do so. That's why I call these assertions, because yes, they are strongly held opinions, but with nothing concrete to back them up. It's probably also true that the descriptivists on this forum also read linguistics blogs, where it is considered necessary to back up your arguments with references. And with the Internet, it is very easy to do so.

Anothger reason why we have to do this is because it us who are under attack. When have I ever criticised anyone's use of language on this forum, unless it was out and out ungrammatical, or they were asking for an opinion? No, I spend my time defending perfectly good idiomatic language from those who like to find fault with the language of others. And if people are going to criticise other people's use of language, then I think they need something a little stronger than personal opinion to support their arguments.

And as long as some people suggest that "different to" is incorrect, I will argue the opposite. But I will argue, not assert.

As you say, just a thought. :))

Warsaw Will March 1, 2013, 11:16am

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In the first 35 years of my life, which I spent in Scotland, I never once heard "different to" being used, although it did crop up now and then in films and some TV programs.
So it was certainly not commonplace.
The usage seemed to gather momentum in the late 70s and early 80s in England and then the fad spread northward.
Unfortunately I do not have my English language school books from that period, but I do assure you that "different to" did not appear in any of them.
I do not view my stating that certain constructs may be erroneous as any form of attack on anyone.
It is an unfortunate fact that fads do occur in language as in many other areas.
Some wither and die, some, through "common usage", persist.
Were there some logic behind these fads then they would perhaps be more acceptable, but unfortunately logic seems to play no part.
I have no doubt that we will soon see other aberrations become "acceptable".
"identical with" will probably supplant "identical to",
"deal to" will oust "deal with",
"familiar of" replace "familiar with".
There are in fact lots of examples where use of an inappropriate preposition is creeping into the language.
I am all in favour for change that is good and adds something to the language. Unfortunately in the past 20 or 30 years such change has become "Rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cycno ".

My classics master will be turning in his grave.



Hairy Scot March 1, 2013, 11:55am

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HI Hairy - I'm sorry, the tone of my last comment was a bit heavy, so I'll try and lighten (and shorten) this one.

Personally, I've no idea what we were taught about this at school, or if we were indeed taught anything, as this had never been an issue for me until it came up on PITE. I got a bit of a shock at the time, and that was why I started looking it up in dictionaries and usage guides, which seemed to back up my use as being perfectly permissible, albeit a minority usage. Before then I'd never even thought about it and probably hadn't paid much attention to what other people were saying.

Perhaps there is a Scottish vs RP or U angle here. I know that some of Fowler's predilections (I can never spell that word!) tend to be towards U words over Non-U (for example "napkin" over "serviette"). The New Murphy, however, does have an example with "to" from the Scots Magazine from 1986, and there are plenty of examples in the modern Scotsman and Glasgow Herald:"different+..."different+...

In fact there's a bit of a surprise here: the ratio of "from" to "to" is not nearly as high as I would have expected. 10,300 to 7,030 in the Scotsman, and 2,370 to 1,420 in the Herald. In fact the ratio of "to" to "from" in seems to be marginally higher in the Scottish quality press than in UK quality newspapers in general, except for the Telegraph, for some weird reason. Here are the numbers of Google hits for other British newspapers:

The Guardian - "different from" 24,300, "different to" 12,200
The Independent - "different from" 44,700, "different to" 21,800
The Times - "different from" 82,000, "different to" 1,150
The Telegraph - "different from" 11,800, "different to" 16,400
Financial Times - "different from" 79,000, "different to" 15,700
London Review of Books - "different from" 833,"different to" 53

So while Denkof Zwemmen might be largely right about the London Review of Books, he seems a bit wide of the mark when it comes to the Guardian. Not that these figures will sway your opinion; I understand that. But I find looking at actual usage interesting, and I what I like about PITE is that I learn quite a lot just by looking up stuff for my comments .

Don't you think, by the way, it's a bit much to describe something that was already being discussed over a hundred years ago as a fad? As I said in an earlier comment, "different to" (1526) is the older form, it is "different from" (1590) that is the relative newcomer which has slowly usurped the position of the former..

I know very well that you don't intend these things as attacks, but as long as you use words like "erroneous" and "aberrations", and put expressions like "acceptable" and "common usage" in inverted commas, I'm afraid they will be taken as such (by people like me). You are basically saying that those of us who sometimes use the "to" version are wrong. I dispute that.

At heart, I think there is major a philosophical difference between us. You seem to rather disdain custom ("common usage"), while I rejoice in it as what has made English what it is. Long before Robert Lowth's 'A Short Introduction to English Grammar' of 1762 ushered in the age of prescriptivism, Ben Jonson had written that "Custom is the most certain mistress of language", building on Quintilian's dictum "Consuetudovero certissima loquendi magistra". (to follow your example of ending with a Latin quote)


OK, perhaps not shorter.

Warsaw Will March 2, 2013, 12:39am

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Been taking lessons from DAW? :-))

Words like aberration and erroneous are maybe a little over the top, and I probably do have a tendency toward viewing things in black and white.
Perhaps a classical education and then a career in computer software programming caused a change in some parts of my brain that led to my applying logic to areas where it may not be necessary.
Do people really say things like "apples are different to oranges", or is "different to" reserved for other contexts?
What would have been the result of your Google search 20 or 30 years ago?
Stan's graphs indicate that the "from" variation was and still is most used with the "to" version some way behind. They also show a slight increase in the use of "to" beginning in the late sixties which is in line with what I remember and which supports my impression that it became something of a fad.
That "from" has the majority vote would perhaps indicate that the "to" advocacy is driven by a need to be different or contrary just for the sake of it ("just because we can") or even the classic "they're a' oota step bar oor Tam" effect.
However, it is a grey area, and I think you and I have probably given it a degree of attention far out of proportion to its importance.
I have enjoyed our debates on this one, but I think it's played out now, so rather than continuing round in circles I'll drop it and look forward to a debate on a different grey area.

descendite noli nothi


Hairy Scot March 2, 2013, 8:21am

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@HS - to see how it is being used just do a site search of a newspaper, for example the two Scottish ones I gave (more focused than a general Google search). Incidentally my figures for the Telegraph were a bit off. Use of the "to" version also seems to be higher in the tabloids.

As for me, I used to think I reserved it for cases where it was followed by "what" or "that" - "It's different to what I expected" - but I'm not so sure now.

Incidentally one reason you might be seeing it a lot is that it is apparently more popular than the "from" version in Australia.

Trivia corner - British PM David Cameron uses it a lot. "I am different to Margaret Thatcher, different to past Conservative governments ..." -

All the best till the next one.

Warsaw Will March 2, 2013, 2:20pm

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This article
in Time Magazine contains the following beauty:-
"That is a different approach than the current approach:"

Hairy Scot January 18, 2014, 4:37pm

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"Numerous commentators have condemned different than in spite of its use since the 17th century by many of the best-known names in English literature. It is nevertheless standard and is even recommended in many handbooks when followed by a clause, because insisting on from in such instances often produces clumsy or wordy formulations. Different from, the generally safe choice, is more common especially when it is followed by a noun or pronoun." - Merriam-Webster Online

Incidentally, on "different to": if it was good enough for Thomas Paine, Lord Palmerston and Robert Owen, it's good enough for me.

Warsaw Will January 19, 2014, 1:18am

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I will agree that there are occasions when "different than" could be used to avoid some awkward constructs, but the example I quoted certainly does not fit in that category.
As for claims of past usage by notable persons, are these based on original documents?
Copies, whether handwritten or printed, may well contain inadvertent and/or erroneous alterations.
"Different to" was little used prior to the 1960s when there was a sudden upsurge.
Probably another "benefit" of television and/or cinemas.

Hairy Scot January 19, 2014, 6:09am

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Yes, at least they come from contemporary documents; everything is checkable at Google Books. Earliest I've found is from 1603, by Robert Parsons, a fellow and tutor at Balliol, Oxford (bio at Wikipedia):

Several examples from Smollett's The Critical Review 1762 - and a complaint about its used as early as 1771, not to mention several accounts as to how it was used in England in the nineteenth century. Just check Google Books for the eighteenth century and nineteenth centuries (you can filter searches very precisely).

Thomas Paine 1914 -

Lord Palmertson 1839 -

Robert Owen1841 -

If it was such a recent phenomenon, why was Fowler defending it in 1928? In fact the ratio of from / to is higher now in British (13.8:1) books that any time in the past, according to Ngram, - in 1880 it was 10.9:1, so I think this recent upsurge thing is based on your youth in Scottish schools. My education was partly in English schools, which was no doubt where I picked it up. It's standard British English. You may not like it, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it.

Warsaw Will January 19, 2014, 7:05am

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An original from 1603?

Does Google have the originals?

I did not say it was a recent phenomenon, I said it was little used until the 60s upsurge.

Incidentally, that information was gleaned from one of the links you posted earlier in this discussion.

Hairy Scot January 19, 2014, 9:32am

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I may well be confused regarding the source of the info about the 60s surge.
It was in the form of a graph which I was sure appeared on a site to which you had posted a link.
However I cannot find that link.

Once again CRAFT raises its ugly head. :-))

Hairy Scot January 19, 2014, 10:15am

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No, Google doesn't have the originals; they are all in university libraries where they are photographed and digitised by Google from the originals. There are actually two versions at Google Books, the photographic one which we see, and a digital one in the background for search, etc, and programs like Ngram. I don't really know how much more original I can get than that, but next time I'm in Munich I'll check with the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek where the original is. I've been there before, when researching the Weimar republic, and they're very helpful.

Yes, there has been an absolute rise since the sixties, but the rise in 'different from' is even greater. I'm not really saying it hasn't got more popular recently, just that it is nothing new. This is from an American in 1857:

"I was not aware at the time of the general use made of this expression by English writers as well as speakers. But I've since observed it to be very common - even universal"

As far back as 1770, a certain Robert Blake, while decrying the use of 'different to', admitted that it is an expression often used by good writers' in England:

I'm collecting examples for a blog post, for example these from Jane Eyre:

Sorry, but I don't get the CRAFT reference. :))

Warsaw Will January 19, 2014, 11:21am

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@HS - this might interest you, from the Oxford Dictionaries blog - although I don't quite understand their figures. It looks as though it's currently stronger than I thought.

Warsaw Will January 19, 2014, 12:08pm

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Thanks for the links. I will certainly have a look there.

CRAFT is one of my favourite true acronyms. (Subtle hint there. :) )
It is especially appropriate for those of my vintage.

It means: Cannot Remember A F***ing Thing


Hairy Scot January 19, 2014, 12:39pm

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I've now put together a post with examples of 'different to' from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, with links to Google Books. And also some early comments on its use:

Warsaw Will January 23, 2014, 1:53am

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Yes     No