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How do I know when to use different from, different than, different to?

Different is not a comparative word, but rather one of contrast. The word than should actually follow a comparative adjective. Thus, as a writer you should lean toward using different from, e.g., Apples are different from peaches. / My selection is different from yours. Different than cannot be substituted for different from and so therefore it is sometimes useful as an idiom or for beginning clauses if different from would be awkward, e.g., The event turned out different than what I expected. / The college is different than it was when I went to school. The construction different to is chiefly British. One other slight distinction is when a simple noun phrase follows different than and is regarded as elliptical for a clause. You could use this rule: When different is followed by a prepositional phrase, the preposition should be from. When it is followed by a dependent clause introduced by a conjunction (even if much of the clause is elliptical), the conjunction should be than.

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