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  1. What a difference it is between him and her!

  2. What a difference there is between him and her!

I think sentence 1 is wrong but I cannot explain why. We can say "it is a difference between him and her" so I thought it fine but when I read the first sentence again, it just sounds off. Can someone please explain?

1

when you ask difference you can say it this way
What is the difference between him and her?
or
Is there a difference bettwen him and her?

The answer can be like:

The difference between him and her is....

1

It's not wrong but it is a less-common usage. "What a contrast it is between day and night!"

"What a joy it is to be homeward bound!"

"What joy there is to be homeward bound!"

"What joy there is in being homeward bound!"

None of them are wrong, and none of them mean anything substantively different to one another. But sometimes unusual phrasings can make a point stand out - they lend themselves to memorability or emphasis.

0

The first sentence seems to refer to some particular difference already mentioned... it would sound better in the context of something that defines what difference it refers to, like: He loves grandma's spaghetti, but his sister hates all Italian food. (Actually, even in that context it would sound better to say, what a difference that is.

While the first sentence is about describing the difference between them; it relies on you already knowing something about the difference, the second sentence tells that a difference exists and that it is an impressive difference. It doesn't rely on any missing information so it sounds better by itself.

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