Writing Tip Tuesday: Different From

April 20, 2010 · 3 comments

You’ve been picking up on some common errors I’m seeing a lot of lately and handling them well. How about clarifying “different from” and “different than” sometime.

I lot of people use them interchangeably and see no problem with it. I’m a nit-picker.

“Different from” is almost always the correct one because it is used for simple comparisons between two things—and that’s a more common sentence structure.

Example: My book premise is different from the one that made the bestseller list.
(Comparing my book with another book.)

Example: My grammar preferences are different from a second grader’s.
(Comparing my grammar prefs with someone else’s.)

“Different than” is only acceptable when followed by a full clause.

Example: The publishing industry is different than it was twenty years ago.
(You would never say “…different from it was…” although you could say “…different from the way that it was…” but that’s cumbersome.)

Clear as mud?

Comments on this entry are closed.


brenda April 20, 2010 at 9:34 am

Actually crystal clear 🙂 Different than tends to drive me crazy and I've wondered who wasn't paying attention in 3rd grade when we learned about comparison. Thanks for the clarification.

David J. West April 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm

On a completely seperate note, it seems the poll has leveled off with what people are interested in hasn't it?

I voted for speculative, so I suppose if coupled with YA, I would try my hand again.

LDS_Publisher April 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Hmmm, yes. About that poll and books and the story contest and all that…

I'm so sorry. I've been incredibly busy, what with all the bon-bon eating and destroying the psyches of fragile writers. But expectations are that I'll be right on top of all that soon (ish).

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