In this article we revisit the discussion on what we say, what we write and why we fail. There are many mistakes we refer to as common, because everyone (read: a majority) makes them from time to time, or all the time depending on which group of everyone you are referring to.
If you are having an idle chat with someone, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t say “different from”, but it’s better than saying it wrong i.e., “different than” for General American or “different to” for British. Some people seem to be comfortable using different than because it simply sounds better, or seems more correct when speaking. However, written word is a different story. Writing “different than” when you should be using “different from” is not only wrong, but for anyone who can differentiate between correct and incorrect use, it really sticks out.
On the other hand you can happily use “different than” if you use it as an escape strategy from the pesky “different from that which”. Example: “John took a different route than usual” versus, “John took a different route from that which he usually takes”.
Of course, anyone writing “John took a different route to usual”, which is quite common informal British, is out skating on thin ice.