fewer, less

Both of these words imply a comparison with something larger in number or amount. Fewer is preferred when number is involved (fewer houses on this street, fewer fish in the stream). Less is used in several ways: it is applied to material in bulk (less sugar in the coffee); with abstractions (less honor in business dealings); with matters involving degree and value (1 is less than 2). Although many writers and speakers use these words interchangeably, fewer should be used to refer only to numbers or to units capable of being counted: "The less money we have, the fewer supplies we can bring."

Dictionary of problem words and expressions. . 1975.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • fewer / less —    Fewer should be used when talking about things that can be counted: Lureen has fewer ideas than you; also a few keys, few clouds, few values, few diseases.    Less is used when talking about things that can t be counted: Lureen shows less… …   Confused words

  • fewer, less —     In the first four months of the year Rome s tourists were 700,000 less than in the corresponding period last year (Guardian). Probably no other pair of words causes more problems, and with less justification, than less and fewer. The… …   Dictionary of troublesome word

  • Fewer/less — In traditional prescriptive grammar less is the comparative used when speaking of a continuous quantity that is not numerically quantifiable (that is, with mass nouns). Fewer , on the other hand, is used of discrete quantity and numerically… …   Wikipedia

  • fewer, less —  Use less with singular nouns (less money, less sugar) and fewer with plural nouns (fewer houses, fewer cars) …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • less — fewer, less As a general guide, fewer is used with plural nouns (fewer books, fewer people) and indicates number, whereas less is used with singular nouns and indicates amount (less money / less happiness). However, there is an extensive no man s …   Modern English usage

  • fewer — fewer, less As a general guide, fewer is used with plural nouns (fewer books, fewer people) and indicates number, whereas less is used with singular nouns and indicates amount (less money / less happiness). However, there is an extensive no man s …   Modern English usage

  • fewer — *less, lesser, smaller …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • less — /les/, adv., a compar. of little with least as superl. 1. to a smaller extent, amount, or degree: less exact. 2. most certainly not (often prec. by much or still): He could barely pay for his own lodging, much less for that of his friend. 3. in… …   Universalium

  • less */*/*/ — UK [les] / US adverb, determiner, preposition, pronoun Summary: Less is the comparative form of the function word little and can be used in the following ways: as a determiner (before a noun): Eat less fat. ♦ Schools put less emphasis on being… …   English dictionary

  • less — [[t]lɛs[/t]] adv. a compar. of little with least as superl. 1) to a smaller extent, amount, or degree: less exact[/ex] 2) most certainly not (often prec. by much or still): I could barely pay for my own meal, much less for hers[/ex] 3) in any way …   From formal English to slang

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