Monday, March 24, 2008

Grammar Monday: Less is More

A lot of people are confused by how to use the words less and fewer, particularly those people who are in charge of making the signs to hang above the express check-out lanes. Really, it's fairly simple, so the explanation will be brief.

Fewer is used in reference to things that are individual items, or things which can be counted. We have fewer grapes since we made wine with some of them. Ten items or fewer in the express lane, please. There are fewer people on the island than when our plane first crashed. You can pluralize these words.

Less is used in reference to an unspecified quantity, generally something that has mass or volume and can be measured. These things cannot be counted. There is less coffee in my cup now that I've drunk part of it. We need less sugar than last time. I am carrying less weight in my pack since I drilled holes in my toothbrush handle. These words are not pluralized.

To sum up: if you can count it, use fewer, but if it needs to be measured, use less.

2 comments:

Shiz said...

You drilled holes in your toothbrush handle?

Jennifer said...

LOL shiz...

Soo... my question... I asked my enlish teacher at paseo this and he didn't know...

What preposition would be correct or at least best to use with "procratinate", or none at all? I've never really felt comfortable with anything. Like, I'm procrastinating ON my homework? I'm procrastinating with the housework, everything soudns dumb. Sounds like it needs one though. ?? or does it... I dunno... I'm all mixed up.

One request, don't ever blast those people who use too many ellipses... :P
too close to home.