Tuesday, November 08, 2005

grammar shrammar

the video for my book is done. almost.
but the voiceover has a grammatic error that will be a big deal to correct. and it's right at the beginning.


it says: the town was no different from any other small town.

it should be: the town was no different than any other small town.

would you have noticed the mistake?

i wrote it correctly, but put a question beside it. checked, and found i was right, so never said anything else about it. i should have followed up, because the question led to it being changed without my knowing.

Than is used as a conjunction; from is a preposition requiring an object. Your example, the town was no different than any other small town is correct because you're linking two clauses. I know, I know, you're thinking "But any other small town isn't an independent clause." True, but there is an implied "was." You mean the town was no different than any other small town was.


Jeff said...

Anne-- I can always use a lesson in grammer. Thanks :)

I guess you could also say, "the town was the same as any other small town."

e-mom said...

i would say than automatically. from doesn't sound right to me. course i speak hillbilly. i would've said " the town ain't no different than any of them other towns" :-)

anne frasier said...

after all this, i may have to give up on it. i'm not sure the mistake can even be fixed at this point.


Rob Gregory Browne said...

It CAN be fixed, if your narrator used the word "than" somewhere else. It would probably be a difficult fix, but it can be done.

It might even be fixed if your narrator said "the" and "can." Or "Them" and "Hand."

These things can be edited down to the syllable. But you probably already know that.

If you want to send me the audio file, I'll give it a try.

anne frasier said...

grammar shrammer continued.

i got theses two replies from list:

here's what a copy editor had to say:

All my training and experience as a copy editor tells me that "different from"
is actually correct. My favorite grammar and usage book, The Gregg Reference
Manual, has this to say:

different from: This product is different from the one I normally use.

different than: I view the matter in a different way than you do. (Although
"from" is normally preferred, "than" is acceptable in order to avoid sentences
like "I view the matter in a different way from the way in which you do.")

So here's one vote for "different from." : )

and another person:

I absolutely would not change it and this is why: You could make a strong
argument that "from" is correct because the prepositional phrase would be "from
any other small town." The preposition is "from"; the object of the prep is
"town" and the rest are modifiers. I tend to see the phrase that way, as a
phrase not a clause, even though the implied "the town is/was," also is very
strong. So, that said, I figure if two grammarians :--) see the same situtation
differently, the audience at large isn't going to quibble about which is
"correct," and I'd go with what's easier to correct/not correct in the m/s. The
spoken language is moving toward using "than" much more than "from" in many
situations, again because it "sounds right." My two cents.

e-mom said...

more i think about it, i think only rednecks say different than. i can't think of hearing anyone else use than like we do.

Jeff said...

Heck, I'm so confused now I'm not sure I can tell the difference FROM one THAN the other! :)

anne frasier said...

THAN seemed right to me, and i'm 3/4 redneck.

jeff: i know! now they both seem horribly wrong!!!

Jer said...

anne, probably no one will even notice it because it's not written, it's spoken. I may notice an error when written, but spoken English is just different. We let people get away with saying "they" when it should be "he or she." But when it's written, watch out! :)

I'd just relax, have a cup of coffee or a beer, and let it go. Bye-bye problem!

(P.S. since I edit for a living, I'd be happy to help anytime you like. 'Cause you're my friend.)

and no, I don't edit my posts--I have to write quickly during my lunchtime. :)

Mary Louisa said...

I used to teach advanced grammar at the college level, and I agree with Jer. When people hear the line, it shouldn't bother anyone's ears. Okay, maybe a very few. It is more a question of usage rather than "correctness," in my opinion, and people who get too hung up on correctness deserve the hives they give themselves. That being said, I would be upset that the video people didn't follow my lead as the author of the book!

Mary Louisa said...

Anne, I believe you meant "shrammar"? ;)

anne frasier said...


my first big laugh of the day. thanks!

should i fix that? hmmm. yes, no, yes.

anne frasier said...

that doesn't look right either. :D

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Right Schmight