Posted by: Jack Henry | June 30, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Fewer vs. Less

The words fewer and less are often misused. Although both words refer to a smaller quantity of something, there is a difference. Here’s the general rule for these two words:

· If you can count it, use fewer

· If you can’t count it, use less

Use fewer for count nouns, such as books, pens, computers, fingers, and shoes.

· We had fewer students in attendance this year.

Use less for non-count (mass) nouns, such as water, milk, air, weather, wood, and respect.

· There seemed to be less traffic this morning.

There are exceptions to this rule. Use the word less for time, money, distance, and weight. For example:

· It will take Ron less than 27 seconds to eat the entire cake.

· Don’t complain because you have less than $1.00 in your bank account.

· I live less than three miles from work.

· I can’t believe you bought a turkey that weighs less than 12 pounds to feed 75 people.

If you stick to the general rule and remember the exceptions, you will be less confused and make fewer mistakes.

Now go and refresh my mint julep. You may use fewer ice cubes, but don’t you dare give me less bourbon!

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.542.6711 | Extension: 766711

Symitar Documentation Services

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