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English lessons - Different from or different than?

 
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These days people are posting questions on the English language in the MD forum. So, I think I can post one more. :-)

So, I was responding to this post just now and I said the following -

Following is just my view and it can be different from others' view.



Should that be 'different from' or 'different than'?

Edit - Changed 'on English language' to 'on the English language'. God, this is difficult. Really.
 
Heena Agarwal
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I think it should be different than.

We distinguish A from B.

A is different than B.

Right?
 
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I'd say "different from", but I've seen "different than" being used heavily as well. The former has my preference, and I think both are actually correct, or at least accepted. Then again English isn't my native language, so what do I know
 
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I don't know which is correct but they both feel fine. As a native English speaker, i go by how things sound a lot
 
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I agree with Jeanne.

Although, I always did poorly in my English classes...
 
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I don't think it matters. They are the same thing. I think "differrent than" is an Americanism. I don;t remember hearing it in India. However, I'm getting old, and I've been making up memories, so take it with a grain of salt.
 
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Here's a page which looks like it's from a reputable authority: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/different-from-than-or-to
 
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Paul Clapham wrote:Here's a page which looks like it's from a reputable authority: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/different-from-than-or-to



That sounds about right from a UK point of view - "different from" and "different to" are definitely more common here.

A very useful source for this sort of thing are the newspaper style guides, which often have a preferred approach. In general I like the one from The Guardian, which has this to say:

different from is traditionally the correct form; different to is widely accepted nowadays, but note the difference between:

She looked very different to those who came before (to the people who came before, she looked very different).

She looked very different from those who came before (she did not look like the people who came before).

Different than is frowned on, at least in British English; and it's always differs from, not differs to

 
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Thanks , Heena for such post. As you can see , English is not my native language. I did my school studies in Hindi Medium. I face lots problems and humiliation due to my inability of speaking in English properly.

best regards,


 
Paul Clapham
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Just a warning about googling for this sort of thing... the web is full of people who will classify you as a moron or worse if you're caught saying something like "between you and I". And there are all kinds of people who post bogus "rules" of English which exist only in their minds. People have even written best-selling books full of rubbish advice about the English language. So don't believe everything you read on the web about what's good English and what isn't.
 
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I think Matt's post gives the clearest answer to this, and that's a nice illustration of the difference between "different to" and "different from". Certainly "different than" would sound a bit strange to native speakers of British English.

Paul's right that there is a lot of nonsense on the web about "correct" English (as there is about most other things!). If you need to get reliable information, choose a reliable source, as Matt's post illustrates. And if you're serious about using English professionally, definitely make an effort to learn the "correct" way to express things in English. Informal communication in speech or writing e.g. for blogs or emails is fine - people will usually understand what you're trying to say, even if it's not "correct". But when you're writing more formal English for professional purposes - documentation, presentations etc - you need to ensure that you are using the language correctly, both for communicating clearly and accurately and also to give a positive impression of your own professionalism.

And never use TXTMSG abbreviations unless you're sending a text message e.g. don't write "U" for "you" and so on.
 
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Bobby Sharma wrote:Thanks , Heena for such post. As you can see , English is not my native language. I did my school studies in Hindi Medium. I face lots problems and humiliation due to my inability of speaking in English properly.

best regards,



I was in France, on holiday, a few years ago. I was astounded when every person I spoke to apologised to me for not speaking better English. Truth be told, most Americans should apologise for not speaking English properly. A former colleague was going on about a woman from India, her accent and her inability to speak English 'properly.' I asked him how many Hindi dialects he spoke. I asked him what languages besides English (and bad English) did he know.

Your English is better than my Hindi, French, and the list goes on. I am fluent in several dialects of COBOL, Basic, some C and my Java is improving, but I am not sure that they count.

Regards,
Robert
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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I think it's time Indians stop apologizing for their English and were more confident about it. Most of the time When educated Indians say their English is not good they mean they are not confident about their English. Their English is pretty good. Sure, it's hard to understand idioms that are in use in other countries.. And there are indianisms that other people may not understand. However, that applies to all English speaking countries. English is as much as an Indian language as it's an American language. I don't see Americans apologizing for americanisms. I dont see Australians apologizing for australianisms. I don't see anyone apologizing for cockney. Indian English is its own thing.
 
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Robert D. Smith wrote:Truth be told, most Americans should apologise for not speaking English properly.



That's the truth. Speaking or writing grammatically correct English is difficult even for native speakers. The language is a hodge-podge of slang, metaphors and synonyms. It has it's roots in Latin, French, and a dozen other languages. For every rule there are multiple exceptions. American English is different from UK English which is different from Australian English. Even in America, the English spoken in Brooklyn is vastly different than the English spoken in Louisiana. I feel sorry for anyone trying to learn English as a second language. It must be extremely frustrating as opposed to learning a "purer" language such as Japanese.
 
Matthew Brown
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Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:I don't see anyone apologizing for cockney.



Somebody should
 
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A quick google shows that the correct phrase is "different from" and not "different than" -- and it looks like people are very strong about. Personally, I have heard both prepositions used in that context, and is fine with either.

Henry
 
chris webster
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J. Kevin Robbins wrote:The language is a hodge-podge of slang, metaphors and synonyms....


Well, speaking as a qualified translator who studied about a dozen different languages at school/university (and forgot most of them soon afterwards, I hasten to add), I reckon the same applies to pretty much any language you care to name! And lots of people like to insist that their language is uniquely hard for others to learn, usually without much in the way of evidence one way or the other.

I don't think English is intrinsically easier/harder to learn than most other languages (apart from its somewhat archaic spelling), but it also depends where you're coming from. If your native language is Dutch or Danish, then English is not too big a leap. If your native language is Mandarin, then you're going to find it a lot harder e.g. I had a Chinese colleague in Germany who used to speak a weird mishmash of English and German because to him it all sounded the same anyway (I have the same problem with Spanish and Italian ). But then I know I'd find Mandarin pretty tough as well.

A lot of Indians seem to speak excellent English - and some of them sound more English than the English. But I also have many Indian colleagues whose English is almost impossible to understand, even though they can read/write English reasonably well, because they have never been taught to pronounce English properly. Some of these guys can apparently understand each other's English (not always), possibly because they have similar underlying accents in their native language, but that doesn't help anybody else much. This causes real problems at work, because you can't keep saying "I beg your pardon?" every time some poor guy tries to explain something to you, and it's awkward to find a diplomatic way to tell him he's not making any sense because of his impenetrable accent. But it's also not good that the rest of the team effectively has to work around their communication problems. I have a lot of sympathy with people in this situation, not least because I've had the same experience myself: when I first went to Germany I know my German accent and vocabulary were not great, so people sometimes had trouble understanding me, but I worked at it and made strenuous efforts to improve, and it all worked out in the end.

Basically, if you're working in a foreign language, it's up to you to ensure you reach a professional level of proficiency in that language, just as you would try to become proficient in Java, for example. Rather than apologising but never getting any better, make sure you learn from your mistakes and take every opportunity to improve your knowledge of the language - both written and spoken forms - wherever you can. If people seem to be having trouble understanding you, try to figure out why and what you can do to solve the problem.

For example, a lot of people under-estimate the importance of intonation and stress patterns when speaking a foreign language, yet these can make all the difference in allowing others to understand you. Listen to how native speakers use their language, and try to imitate them, including the "music" of their speech. You might learn some questionable slang , but you'll also learn how to communicate more naturally with them. Another trick is to read books aloud, simply to practice the sounds and pronunciation, but make sure you enunciate clearly (your neighbours will appreciate this ). Also, listen to the radio and watch TV - I learned a lot of German from watching dubbed re-runs of "Star Trek" back in the day!

Beamen Sie uns an Bord, Scotty!
 
chris webster
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Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:I think it's time Indians stop apologizing for their English and were more confident about it. ...I don't see anyone apologizing for cockney. Indian English is its own thing.


Sure, if cockneys are talking to cockneys, there's no reason why they should apologise for speaking cockney. But if they're talking to Glaswegians or Americans or Indians, then maybe they need to use a more commonly understood form of English if they actually want to communicate outside the cockney community. As you say, English is not a single language, but rather a family of related dialects and registers, and it's important to know which register to use in a given situation. Innit?
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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I had grown up learning Hindi at home, and hearing Sindhi, Marathi, Gujurati spoken around me... and doing all my schooling in English. My son, OTH, is growing up steeped every which way in English. We speak English at home unless we are speaking to our parents. English is intrinsically a much harder language to learn than Hindi. The whole thing about words not sounding as they are written is crazy. In Hindi, you don't have phonics. The language is phonetic. Hindi phonics is "This letter is uh... make the sound uh. This letter is buh.. make the sound buh. put them together and you make ub" In my life, I never had to learn complicated phonics rules.. I never had to learn silly songs to learn the rules of phonics, along with the exceptions "Let's see ar makes the r sound... but if you add e at the end, it sounds like air.... except if it's by itself, are sounds like ar and air sounds like are" Gah!!! Kill me please! I have never played with alphabet blocks. You don;t need to. Because, in Hindi, you are learning sounds before you learn the letters, you can start learning letters later in life. Like there is no need to learn the letters until you are 7 years old. In English, because phonics is so god damn hard, kids have to start learning it in kindergarten, which means, they have to start learning learning letters as soon as they walk. It's crazy!!
 
chris webster
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Yeah. English spelling is awkward, that's true. Welsh spelling, on the other hand, is really easy, but that doesn't stop English people complaining about how hard it is! And Russian spelling is more or less phonetic, but the grammar is pretty heavy going for speakers of non-Slavic languages.

Anyway, just be glad you don't have to teach your kids to write Mandarin!
 
Bobby Sharma
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You guys have very good thoughts. I wish you guys were my HR manager. I don't appreciate the attitude of Indians who show-off their English in front of Hindi Medium guys like me. I understand if a native English speaker makes fun of me , but the same act is done by a fellow Indian is condemnable according to me.
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Yeah :lol:

Atleast with Indians, since Indian languages and European Languages have the same roots, the grammar is quite close. The major challenge that a lot of Indians have to face is pronounciation (which is really English's fault for making it so hard) and learning the idioms. Usually, even if you don't have a handle on English grammar, but you are doing word by word translation from Indian languages, people can understand you.

I beleive Mandarin is really belongs to a completely differrent family of languages, so it becomes exponentially harder
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Bobby Sharma wrote:You guys have very good thoughts. I wish you guys were my HR manager. I don't appreciate the attitude of Indians who show-off their English in front of Hindi Medium guys like me. I understand if a native English speaker makes fun of me , but the same act is done by a fellow Indian is condemnable according to me.



Bobby, even English medium guys have to learn how to speak English. By the time they get out of 12th standard, they can read and write English, but speaking in English is a differrent ballgame. I did my school in English medium but I couldn't converse in English. I really learnt to talk in English after I came to the US.

Based on how well you write, I wouldn't know that you were Hindi medium. Your written English is as good as any English medium student. Yes, you might have problems in conversational English, and you won;t get over that unless you practice. The trick is to start thinking in English, which takes time
 
Heena Agarwal
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So 'different from' it is going to be going forward. Thanks all.

Writing correct sentences is a difficult task. And then there are things like conventional usage, modern usage etc that do not always align with the rules of grammar. New words are added to the dictionary every now and then. And the grammar rules also get refined from time to time.

 
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