Different 'From' or 'Than'?

05 April 2024

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Question to English teachers,

different 'from' or 'than'?
different 'from' or 'than'?

What is correct to say: different from or different than?

In the example below, which is correct?

a) Cost of life has a different meaning than cost of living.

b) Cost of life has a different meaning from cost of living.


Thank you for this question. It is a good one!

Some people say that "different than" is incorrect. Your grammar textbook may say you should never use "different than."

However, in American English, we use both "different from" and "different than" to mean "not the same".

We use them before a noun phrase. For example,

It's different from other shows.

State laws may be different from national laws.

Their ideas are a little different than ours.

We can also use them before a clause. For example.

How are these different from the ones we had before?

That is not any different than what I said.

Dating is different than it was 10 years ago.

Both phrases have the same meaning, but their usage is different.

We use "different than" mostly in spoken English. It is more informal, and it is almost always used before a clause.

We use "different from" mostly in written English, and we use it far more often than "different than."

So, either sentence is okay in spoken American English, but "different from" is the better choice because it comes before a noun phrase.

We hope this explanation has helped you.

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com.

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Gena Bennett.

Gena Bennett wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.