Different From vs Different To (Australian)

I had to research this one myself a few years back, because I was always taught “different to” was correct, but I hear people all over the place saying “different than”, “different from”, etc.

So here we go, let’s word nerd out – here’s what the experts say about how you can use the word “different”.

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Is it different from, different to, or different than?

If you’re aiming to sound correct to most of the world, both “different to” or “different from” will be good. And “different than” will sound incorrect unless you are speaking specifically to an American audience.

All of the below examples are therefore correct usage according to the modern standard:

e.g. Our app works differently to our competitors’ apps, and that’s why it’s more stable than other apps.

e.g. Our ways of working are different now to what it was like before the COVID-19 pandemic.

e.g. The QSuper Lifetime investment option uses an investment strategy that’s different from our Balanced or Aggressive investment options.

Why different to and different from are both better than different than

When you Google grammar tips, add the word “Australian” or even “Oxford English Dictionary” to your search so you can get tips that are valid for Australia, rather than getting a bunch of American results that don’t apply here.

First, I took a look at what the Australian Writers’ Centre says. They said you can technically use any of three prepositions “to, from, than” with the adjective “different”.

But they did point out that “different from” is most commonly used around the world; “different to” is most common in Australia and the UK; and in the USA they also use “different than”.

For the history, apparently “different to” was the earliest version used, and before the 1700s, you could also say “different against” – but obviously we don’t say that anymore.

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries and Collins Dictionary both agree with that approach.

(C) TJ Withers-Ryan, 2022. Please credit me when you repost/share, thanks!