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Editorial Help Desk:
Your Resource for Grammar and MCPS Style

Word of the Month

This month's word was tagged when we thought it was a typo; however, the spell checker did not.

(verb) To babble or talk foolishly
The debutante havered on and on about the dresses she bought this summer.

To vacillate or to be indecisive.
We were exasperated by all her havering over what dress to wear.


Tip of the Month

Wait, wait… should I write different than or different from?

When to use different from

Use different from in formal writing.
     Are female turtles different from female tortoises?
     Do girls sweat differently from boys?
     Our fifth grade students dress different from those in Brazil.

When to use different than

The red flag: the word than. Whenever there is a clause that is understood following the main clause, then than is appropriate.
     The house is different than I remember (it looked).
     She is less interested in racing than her brother (is interested in racing).
     Her writing is better than mine (my writing is).

The clause in parentheses is understood, so it does not need to be spelled out for the reader to understand the sentence.

     1. Use different from in MCPS documents.
     2. Use different than in MCPS documents when the finished phrase (in parentheses) is understood, and does not need to be spelled out, and when different than is part of a direct quotation in the document.

Contact Donna M. Marks on Outlook or call 301-517-8139.

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