Monday, March 27, 2023

spot the error

Just seen in the Instapundit comments section:

One is different than the other.

Do you see the problem? It's the word than, which is a preposition in this case (it can also be a conjunction in other contexts). Consider three expressions:

1. different from

2. different to

3. different than

In US English, we say X is different from Y. The UK equivalent is X is different to Y. But both the US and the UK agree that different than is used only before a clause.

The results were different than I expected. (the words in blue are the clause)

Est-ce que c'est clair?


John Mac said...

I may have been guilty of that mistake in the past--at least it sounds like something I would say/write.

Are there different levels of bad grammar? This one seems more subtle that the usual errors. Can one mistake be less irksome than another?

Kevin Kim said...

I should have talked more about uses of "than." In cases of unequal comparisons, "than" works. "This is bigger than that." Ideally, this means the original sentence should have been written in the comparative form: "X is more different than Y." But it's weird to talk about degrees of difference that way. Possible, but weird.

Charles said...

But what if I want to be different than people who use proper grammar?

Kevin Kim said...

Than there is no hope for you.

Anonymous said...

Or Washington state as some democrats there are pushing to drop the requirements that police, and other civil servants, can read or write English.

John from Daejeon said...

Sorry just got a new phone and didn't update my user name until just now.

Kevin Kim said...

John from Daejeon,

Ought to be fun to read those illiterate police reports.

ToDae, we asjakghfsulfsdkvnsdvsd098vuwe409f aNd THeN wé mvcwpow089jvsl/vbfbxsd;lgvjw04evspwessvnlsidv0f9jsdogj49 BUT jv;slvmlwkncwj98wicnoibhlskgkj2k.svbl44lklokbd;09mx;dbnlsk