Free English lesson: it's 'different from', not 'different than'
Having voted up several posts on certain occasions where you were subject to egregiously errant opinion I feel I must point out:
Different than, different from, or different to?
Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.
F. Scott Fitzgerald 1926
It’s a situation that crops up all the time – you want to contrast people or things, describing how one is not the same as the other, so you use the adjective different, and decide to follow it with one of three prepositions (either from, to, or than) to introduce the second element of the contrast. You then happily compose your statement, for instance:
Your goals may be different than mine.
But tread carefully! The topic of which preposition you choose has been a grammatical minefield for many years. F. Scott Fitzgerald wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows with his famous use of different from in the quotation at the start of this piece, but had he instead written ‘They are different than you and me’, some traditionalists would have started gnashing their teeth. Many people aren’t greatly enthused about the phrase different to, either.
Why should this be? When we consult the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for the broader historical picture, we find that different to predates other phrases, being evidenced from the 16th century; different from is first recorded in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors; different than also first appears in writing in the 17th century. In fact (those of a sensitive grammatical disposition should look away now), there was once a time when different against was also possible, as evidenced by this OED citation:
Humane wisdome, different against the divine will, is vaine and contemptible.
Some people criticize different than as incorrect but there’s no real justification for this view. There’s little difference in sense between the three expressions, and all of them are used by respected writers.