Word Choice – Different From Versus Different Than

BizWritingTip reader: “Do you have an opinion on the construction ‘Bob’s information was different than mine’? I see it all the time and do not like it. I would write ‘Bob’s information was different from mine,’ but I appear to be one of the few who feel this way.”

BizWritingTip response: The phrases different from and different than are common in both British and North American English.

Different from is considered the more acceptable of the two phrases.

Examples (correct)

Business writing is different from academic writing.

Bob’s information was different from mine.

Different than has often been criticized by English purists, but its usage is becoming more common. You can get away with it when a full clause follows the phrase as it does reduce the number of words in the sentence.

Examples (correct)

The industry is different than it was ten years ago. (The industry is different from what it was ten years ago.)

I want you to write the report in a different manner than you normally prepare it. (I want you to write the report in a different manner from the way you normally prepare it.)

I trust this response is not different from your usage.