Grammar of the Day – Different To
I used to think that “different than” was bad. As in, “Reading a book is different than watching a movie.” But now it seems almost like an old friend. I think it’s been used in the place of “different from” for so long that the language has begun to accept it. And there’s almost a rationale for it. If you can have “bigger than” and “smaller than” and “older than” and “colder than,” then why can’t you have “different than?” After all, those other phrases imply a “difference,” don’t they?
Okay, I admit it: it still annoys me. I don’t think people would make the same mistake with “similar,” the antonym of “different.” I doubt if anyone would say, “Reading a book is similar than reading a magazine.” They would say that it’s “similar to.” Different – similar. From – to. Apart – together. All very logical. But with language, usage trumps logic, so it’s not surprising that the incorrect usage has become so widely used that it’s also widely accepted.
Does that explain “different to?” Has the original error become so mainstream that it has to be replaced by another one? An even worse one, if you ask me. As explained above, “different than” at least has a rationale, however specious. But “different to” is beyond the pale. It has taken the correct “from” and replaced it with its opposite. When I see it I just roll my mental eyes. I’m beginning to wonder if someone’s doing it on purpose. What happens when this one becomes widely accepted? “Different as?”
By the way, a little research shows that all three — from, than and to — are considered correct, but that “from” is least likely to get you in trouble.