Fewer and Less

I’ve nearly given up on this one. But in the spirit of spitting into the wind, here goes:

Both words refer to smaller amounts of something. If you can count the individual things you’re describing, you say “fewer.” If you can’t count the things, you say “less.”

For example, we say, “I put less salt on now” because we aren’t into getting an exact count of salt crystals. We also say “less water” and “less time” and “less pain.”

But if you can count the things you’re talking about, or they each have individual worth even if there are many, we say “fewer”– such as “fewer people” and “fewer houses” or “fewer incidents.”

We can’t accurately say “We have five less cars on the lot” because we hope that we can count those cars. We say “We have five fewer cars on the lot.”

You could accurately say that something costs less money and be right. You could also say that it costs fewer dollars, and that would be correct. But it would be weird.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s