Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Less vs. fewer

Micro-lesson for today: Less vs. Fewer!

I know, you’re thinking that this is a little over-the-top, and that these words are interchangeable… well, they aren’t. Since I’m sure you already know the definition, I will just define the difference in how these words should be used:

LESS – use when you can’t count the number of items (qualities and liquids)
FEWER – use when you can count the number of items

I wish she would pay LESS attention to Luke and more to me.
Today, I drank LESS water than I usually do.
I have had FEWER car accidents than you!

Do you know why these are correct?

I have LESS money in the bank than I had hoped I would have by now.
I keep FEWER coins in my purse than before, because they were getting too heavy.

Want to quiz yourself? Here are a few for you to try:

I wish I had eaten LESS/FEWER candy bars.
I wish I had eaten LESS/FEWER ice cream.
It rains in Spain LESS/FEWER than it does in England.
I have LESS/FEWER time than I need to finish my homework.
I will accept ten applications – no more, no LESS/FEWER.

Here are the answers (in reverse):
Fewer, less, less, less, fewer

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