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And Now, the Oscar for Best Supporting Honey Wagon Driver

What Is the Difference between "Different Than" and "Different From"?

Long after the movie ends and everyone else has left the theatre, I sit in the dark watching the credits, mesmerized by the thousands of people it takes to make a movie: the loaders, the gaffers, the grips, the best boys. The Pre-Dubbers and Print Mixers, the Boom Operators and Stunt Team, the Foley Artists and Second Unit Wardrobe Production Assistants. The Transportation Captain and the Parking Coordinator. The Second Second Assistant to the Backup Accountant for Food Services in Charge of Estimating the Value of Edible Food Composted at the End of Each Day for Tax Reasons. But my all-time, all-time favorites are the Honey Wagon Drivers. (Yes, there is such a credit.) If you promise not to tell, it’s a great way for aspiring directors to get the inside scoop. So to speak.


But here’s the credit I wait for and never see: Chief Grammarian Responsible for Knowing the Difference Between Different Than and Different From. (“What?” you gasp. “Different than might be different from different from?” If you just gasped that, you need to pay attention.) No such credit ever appears, and I am shocked. But imagine, if you will . . . .










PULL BACK to reveal thatched huts and smoke rising from many cooking fires. DIRECTOR and SPECIAL FX STUNT COORDINATOR follow PRODUCER as he strides quickly past huts, cooking fires, and CHIEF GRAMMARIAN.



(consults clipboard)

At ten o'clock, the helicopters spray agent orange

to defoliate all the crops, then after lunch, we

drop napalm to fry the village.



How much is that gonna cost?


Director stops. He hates Producer's cheap iron fist around the budget.




What do you want me to do? Give them all noogies?



Noogies we can afford. I love the smell of noogies

in the morning. I don't see how that's any different

than torching the village.


Chief Grammarian overhears.





Producer stops, whirls, glares at Chief Grammarian.






Different from. Different from torching the

village. Use than only with a comparative

adjective, like taller than, faster than, as in,

Apocalypse Now is better than The Deer Hunter.

Different is not a comparative adjective, so we

do not say or write different than! Not as long as

I am on this set!


Producer snarls. Chief Grammarian pokes Producer in the breastbone with her index finger.



Just so you understand the magnitude of the

controversy over different than versus different

from, recall Cecil B. DeMille’s epic, Gone With

the Sand, where the Ten Lost Tribes meet for

cocktails and try to solve the problems of the

Middle East. Like that, only louder!


Producer, Director, Stunt Coordinator stand speechless, mouths agape.



An exception. Listen up! Use different than

only in situations like this.


(clears throat, speaks slowly)


In Apocalypse Now, Robert Duvall’s demeanor

in the morning is different from what it is in the



(raises her eyebrows)


You with me? If we use from here, we have to add

what it is, or we're comparing Bob's demeanor

to the afternoon. Nonsensical. So here, even you

may use different than instead of different from

and all that clumsy extra wording. Just don't talk

nonsense. Difficult for you, I realize.


(pats cheek of Producer)


Close your mouth. Lot of flies around here with

all these fish eyes.


Producer, Director, Stunt Coordinator close their mouths, nod. But Chief Grammarian is not finished.



About forty years ago in The Careful Writer, Theodore

Bernstein wrote, and I quote, To insist on different from

regardless of the clumsiness it sometimes produces

would be to let the horse ride the horseman.


Stunt Coordinator hurriedly sketches on clipboard.



(suddenly excited)

I love that visual!



(rolls her eyes)

I knew you would.



How much is that gonna cost?



I see grammarians with SAG cards, Oscar nominations for Best On-Set Grammarian in a Supporting Role, credits for Special Creative Hair Stylist to Second Assistant Chief Grammarian Responsible for Knowing the Answer to the Question “Is different than different from different from?” A billion people on the edge of their seats, waiting for the envelope.


The Oscar for Best Editing Tool in a Supporting Role would go to WordRake for its uncanny ability to spot millions of dull and useless words so all writers can be more effective and successful. But don't take my word for it—see for yourself with a free 7-day trial.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.