Monday, 7 May 2012

Damp pedantry

What better way to spend a drizzly Bank Holiday that indulge in a spot of pedantry and possibly therapy? I'm provoked to it by the exchange of comments on this blog about split infinitives.

So here's my big beef: different to. It should be different from. I'm sorry: it really grates on my ear. Let me explain why. "Different" is basically the gerundive of the verb "differ". The gerundive is the adjective form of the verb, for example, "distracting", as in "You're very distracting". Now say, "This differs to that". Listen to it. It's clearly incorrect; "this differs from that" is correct. So, it's different from, and its opposite is similar to.

I'm sorry to say that it's mainly UK English-speakers who get this wrong, not least BBC presenters, whereas English-learners and our transatlantic cousins generally get it right. The trick is to think before you speak. I'm hoping this short post will go some way to reversing this distressing trend. But I'm not holding my breath.

No comments:

Post a Comment