Different From vs. Different Than

April 18th, 2024 in Grammar by April Michelle Davis 0

We compare things every day and are constantly expressing our opinions about one thing or another. One way we do this is with the words different from and different than. To make your writing clear, professional, and correct, know how to use them in a sentence.

Different from is primarily used when introducing a phrase. Different than can also be used, but different from is the preferred form. Different from is also used for simple comparisons where the things being compared have the same grammatical structure.

For example: My books look different from her books. My books and her books have the same structure and are being compared to one another. In cases where this parallel construction appears, different from should be used.

Different than is used in a sentence when it is followed by a clause. However, different from can also be used if more words are added with the clause.

For example: Married life is different than I expected. In the sentence, different than precedes the clause I expected.

Now look: Married life is different from what I expected it to be. The additional words in the sentence allow you to use different from.

If instead of the word different you need to use differently, the above rules still apply. Differently than is used when it is followed by a clause. When more words are added to the clause, differently from can be used.


Try It!

For each sentence, decide whether different from or different than is most appropriate.

  1. The book looked different from/than other books that I’ve seen.
    2. You look different from/than how you looked in the newspaper photograph.
    3. My eyesight is different from/than yours.
    4. She was pleased to find that she looked different from/than her twin after her makeover.
    5. They all ordered something different from/than everyone else.

Answer Key: 1. different from; 2. different from; 3. different from; 4. different than; 5. different from