Lately I’ve been noticing more people say “different to” as in “The way I do it is different to the way other people do it.” Previously the only correct form I’d ever heard was “different from.” Fortunately there’s a handy-dandy tool now available to check to see if I’m just imagining it, or perhaps I was just to dense to notice it before. That tool is Google’s N-gram viewer. Here’s the link if you want to check for yourself: Different from vs. different to
I stand vindicated. The “from” form has always been the much preferred form and remains that way today, but I was not imagining the change. Use of “from” has declined in recent years while “to” has increased. In 1963 “different from” was approximately 55 times more frequent in writings, whereas in 2008 in is only 20 times more frequent. I have no explanation for why this is so, but I do have an opinion on which is correct. It seems to me that “from” is the only correct preposition to use there. The very fact of its vastly more frequent usage makes it the standard to go by and is reason enough in and of itself. In addition, the word “different” implies a separation, a moving away from something, not a joining or moving to something. “Different to” just doesn’t make sense. Call me prejudiced, but yet another reason is that the persons I’ve heard use the “to” form in speech have generally been people whose grammar and usage is sub-par. I consider it a form of logic, not prejudice, to infer that if the only people who say something a certain way are people who are poorly educated or unintelligent, then that form is not correct and should not be encouraged.