Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Would you say IELTS is different from other exams?

Alternatively, would you say it’s different than other exams?

Today we’ll answer this tricky grammar question.

We’ll share a pro tip about which one you should always use on IELTS.

Today’s question

We received a great question about these two very similar chunks.

Hey there! I’m Wilson from Brazil. I’ve got something to ask you guys:

I’d love if you could talk about DIFFERENT FROM versus DIFFERENT THAN.

I hear both forms on a regular basis and I wonder if there is any consistent difference between them.

Thanks in advance!

From or than?

Look at the following two options and decide which sounds correct.

  • Teenagers are different from adults. Their brains are not fully formed.
  • Teenagers are different than adults. Their brains are not fully formed.

Which sentence is correct?

Should from or than follow the adjective?

Are they both acceptable?

#1: From

First, let’s examine from.

From is a preposition.

Prepositions indicate the relationship between words in a sentence.

From is quite versatile.

From a distance

From can indicate a physical distance between two or more things.

For example, on a map:

  • The zoo is one mile from the park.

It can also refer to metaphorical distances.

  • You are never far from my heart.

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From a source

It can also indicate a source.

This can be the source of an event or decision.

  • From that day on, I never bought jewelry online again.

Additionally, it can indicate the source of something or someone.

  • Many of the items she orders come from Japan.
  • A large percentage of the university’s international students are from Europe.

#2: Than

Now, let’s do the same thing with than.

Than can be a conjunction.

  • My sister arrived earlier than I did.

It can also be a preposition.

  • I wake up earlier than most people.

Which should be collocated with different?

Both different than and different from are generally considered standard.

However, some people consider different than incorrect.

Different is not a comparative adjective like smaller, so some people say it doesn’t belong with than.

It’s possible to find examples of different than in books, but it is more common in casual writing than in formal writing.

  • Pro tip: to be safe, opt for different from instead of different than.

This will always be considered correct on IELTS.


You are likely going to make comparisons on the IELTS exam.

This skill could be required on both IELTS Speaking and Writing.

It can be confusing to know whether to use different from or different than.

Luckily, you can always use different from and it will be considered correct.

For all the strategies you need on IELTS, sign up for our online course 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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