Tuesday, June 13, 2006

LESS VS. FEWER

I am on a mission to restore the correct use of these words. The biggest usage abusers appear to be TV news people. They should know better – or their writers should. The misuse of this word has been an insidious process that only seems to get worse as time goes by. Hence, my quest to correct the clueless. Care to join me?

Fewer applies to individual, countable things
Fewer refers to number
Fewer means not as many

Less applies to general amounts
Less refers to quantity
Less means not as much

Examples:

Sue had less time to finish and worked fewer hours than John.
(time can’t be counted, hours can)

Fewer flowers bloomed this year and there was less color in the garden.
(flowers can be counted, color can’t)

There were fewer snow days at school this year.
Measuring 18”, there was less snow than predicted from this storm.
(days can be counted, snow can’t be counted)

They had less arguments as their marriage matured. WRONG
They had fewer arguments as their marriage matured. RIGHT

Less people are going to the movies these days. WRONG
Fewer people are going to the movies these days. RIGHT

2 Comments:

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Miss Kris said...

I took a practice GMAT test last night and it made me cry. I am fully aware that my 'weak' area is in Math an felt like I would do OK in the language/grammar/sentence structured section. I fully expected my score to be low in the Math section; I have yet to start studying. However, I did not expect to receive an average score in my 'strong' area. As a matter of fact, I am not confident that all of the rambling above is accurate.

May I borrow your brain for this test, please?

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Patti Auburn said...

Oh I feel for you girl. I remember studying for the GRE. I didn't even study the math part - I figured if I didn't know it at age 37, I wasn't going to learn it for the test! Wouldn't it be nice if we could lend and borrow brains!

 

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