Different From, Different Than, or Different To?

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
If you're unsure whether to use "different from," "different than," or "different to," then play it safe and use "different from."

Different From, Different Than, or Different To?

Some people insist that "different to" and "different than" are incorrect. While it's true that "different from" is the safest option, the other two are not completely incorrect.

Different From

"Different from" is by far the most common of the three, and it is accepted in both American and British English. In other words, it will keep everyone happy. Of note, "different from" works best when it is followed by a noun or noun phrase. For example:
  • Women artists are still treated differently from men.
  • (Here, it is followed by the noun men.)
  • My problems aren't so different from anybody else's.
  • (Here, it is followed by the noun phrase anybody else's.)

Different Than

The alternative option "different than" is more common in American English, especially when followed by a clause. For example:
  • I'm not very different than I was when I was a teenager.
  • I don't feel any different than I did before the movie came out.
  • (In these examples, the words after "than" are clauses.)

Different To

"Different to" can be used in British English, especially when the "different" and "to" are separated. For example:
  • She seemed no different from the other girls he met at university.
  • (Brits also prefer "different from" to "different to.")
  • She seemed no different at first to the other girls he met at university.
  • (Brits tend to opt for "different to" when there are words between "different" and "to.")
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? dived and dove e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? hanged and hung imply or infer? its or it's? learned and learnt material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
List of easily confused words