Fewer vs. Less

You see the mistake everywhere you go, almost.  The supermarket, restaurants, bilboards, you hear it on commercials: the less mistake.

The sad fact about America is that in many locations, or many people I should say, just don’t correctly use, or don’t know how to correctly use, fewer and less.

So how do you differentiate between the two?

Two easy steps:

  • Fewer=countable
  • Less=quantifiable

In other words, if you can count it — you have fewer of it.  If it’s intangible, you have less of it.

For example: If you have 12 items or fewer, you should use the express lane so you spend less time in the store.
Or, maybe a more practical one in this economy: If I have fewer things plugged in, my energy bill will cost me less.

Every time you are tempted to use the word less, or try to use the word fewer, just ask yourself: Can I count this?


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