Which one is the correct form?

Example usage I'm interested in:
That way he had more time to pursue other passions than just diving.
That way he had more time to pursue passions other than just diving.

Quick googling revealed that both forms are being used.
However, some of the sources I've found might not come from native English speakers.

P.S. I'm interested in British English version, preferably RP.
Still, I would be thrilled to learn that this is dialect-specific.

  • As you say, both forms are used. But I can't help feeling that breaking apart the "fixed term" other than in #1 you end up with a construction that's at the very least "awkward". Looking at a simpler version of the same thing, I know other people than him makes it even more obvious to me that I'd rather keep those elements together (I know people other than him). Or much better, ditch than completely and go for I know other people besides him. That way he had more time to pursue other passions besides just diving. That's a BrE perspective, btw. Apr 14, 2017 at 12:27
  • I think I can trust a native :) Please convert to an answer so that I could accept it.
    – vucalur
    Apr 19, 2017 at 9:09
  • I'd have been happy to post something along the lines of the above if you'd asked on English Language Learners - with a disclaimer pointing out that I neither know nor care what "correct" means in this context. But I see ELU as a specialist site where a more formal examination of the grammar is appropriate (and I'm not equipped to provide that). And I must admit I'm a bit uncertain about the semantics, of my besides alternative... Apr 19, 2017 at 12:24
  • ...especially when I consider something like: As pale-skinned vegan I have to top up my vitamin D from sources other than cod liver oil, it obviously doesn't mean besides as it does in I know people other than him. In the vegan example it means instead of, not as well as. Apr 19, 2017 at 12:30
  • Understood. Questions fitting on multiple stacks are a common nuisance. I had seen similar questions here, so I chose ELU. And non-vegans should supplement vit. D too. ;)
    – vucalur
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


Grammar allows several possibilities. This is for a purpose, as this allows one to express nuances of meaning. The rule of thumb is that when different orders of words are possible, whichever word comes first gets the emphasis.

The phrase:

pursue other passions than just diving

stresses (semantically) the idea that the person had a shift in their passions. Whereas:

pursue passions other than just diving

emphasizes that the person is still passionate, but has found other outlets. Note that this one sounds more formal.

Playing around with the order of words or clauses in a sentence can be very useful when writing, e.g.:

He had, that way, more time to pursue other passions than just diving.

Bringing he in front could better express the thought of the writer, if their focus of attention was on the character rather than on the method.

Of course, some forms are more usual than other in different places (dialects) and contexts (legal, academic, etc.); but on occasion, deliberately shifting the order of words or clauses can achieve a stylistic effect or dramatically simplify the sentence.

The bottom line is that grammar and usage rules are not all on the same level. Some are mandatory, others are prevalent; this leeway is something that writers or speakers can use to their profit, when they want to create a particular effect or nuance.

  • Could you provide any references confirming this? Sorry about being choosy, but after reading this I guess I should be. Additionally, just by checking out your network profile, I can't tell if you are a native or not.
    – vucalur
    May 18, 2017 at 6:26
  • I expressed my own observations and I submitted them to you. You are entitled to question or reject my answer and, if you wish, to consult whether other observations are matching those expressed here. But you are not to judge a person on their place of birth.
    – fralau
    May 19, 2017 at 20:02
  • "reject, consult, …" and even upvote ;) yup, that was me. I agree with the argument that by playing around with word order, emphasis can be made on different things. As per "judging people on their place of birth" I think you got a bit too far here. I don't think my comment sounded racist. I'm merely remarking that, on average, native speakers possess greater mastery of a language, than people to whom it's a second language. There are lots of exceptions to this rule; true, true; but that's the "averaged" fact. So, racist - no, judging people's linguistic skills based on nationality - yes.
    – vucalur
    May 20, 2017 at 11:03
  • I understand, but that's the point. If you are putting a presumption on a specific person's skill, based on statistical data on nationality (rather than juding them on their own merit), yes that would be discrimination.
    – fralau
    May 20, 2017 at 16:41
  • I agree. Deductive reasoning in case of an individual is a wrong approach, but it was a last resort I had (apart from reading through your contributions on Stack Exchange network). Googling "fralau" yields too divergent results.
    – vucalur
    May 20, 2017 at 19:21

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