Lots of people have trouble with the phrase “different from.” Commonly they write “different than.” So what’s the difference? Both forms have been used a lot (and in England they say “different to.” Gak.) Bartleby says “different from” is the only one that nobody says is wrong. Rather like nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee. “Different from” functions as an adjective, though. You use it when you compare substantives (words that are like nouns, including nouns, pronouns, and gerunds). So you can say, for example,
A husband’s method of doing something might be different from his wife’s method of doing the same thing.
But what if you’re comparing verbs? Then you need an adverb! The adverb is “differently. ”
I happen to be reading The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. My wife and I are planning to read it together, but I got a little head start. (I hope there’s also a book about the proper care and feeding of wives, but to tell the truth, neither of us has much of a complaint about the other, but I digress.) The book has excellent English, some of the cleanest I have seen in a book in a while, and this morning I ran into the sentence that led to this post. Dr. Schlessinger does a nice job with “differently,” so I’m going to share it with you.
Wives need to remind themselves that when their husbands do something differently from how they would do it themselves, it does not constitute a breach of sanity or a display of contempt.
Note the correct use of “from.” Nice. You can tell what verbs are being compared, right?
Ladies, (so far, anyway) I recommend the book as a source of some good ideas about how you might treat your hubby differently from how you might be treating him, and to everyone, I recommend the book for the good grammar.
Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed