Tag Archives: Different and Similar

Converging to Diversity

The English language gets a bad rap. It’s hard to learn, the “rules” are inconsistent and frequently broken, it’s got so many irregular verbs that the regular verbs are living in a small enclave and battening down the hatches to avoid the onslaught, and that’s before we even get started on the idiom.

But there are rules. And the English language would be grateful if people didn’t wantonly break them! 😉

For example, when I was at school, we learnt a nice simple rule about Different and Similar. They are opposites, and so are the words you can pair with them: from and to. A is different from B and similar to C. Easy.

And yet, even the BBC has been saying “different to” for decades and now the North Americans have introduced “different than”. Than? Than?! It’s not even in the same spectrum as from and to!

Difference is diverging, hence you use from – things are separate FROM each other. Similarity is converging, hence the use of to – things are coming TOwards each other.

If I could enforce one grammar rule, it … actually, it wouldn’t be this one at all, but this one is easy, so it’s a decent place to start my rants about grammar rules. Just wait till I get onto the subject of “due to”!


Filed under British Expat in Canada, Writing