This is the forum of To All a Good Write, a freelance-editing business in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Here, I provide observations, opinions and advice regarding the use of words and grammar in writing, editing and speech. At times light-hearted, at times a bit cynical, this blog’s goals are to simplify the complicated and make an often-dry subject more appealing.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Grammar tip: when to use "less" and when to use "fewer"
see the words lessand fewerconfused in many of the documents I
edit, I think it is abused more often in everyday speech and by people who
should know better, such as TV news broadcasters.
is simple. Use less for a bulk item or one amount. Use fewerfor individual items.
sugar, but I have fewer grains of sugar. The first part refers to a bulk item;
the second part refers to individual items.
some examples from The Associate Press Stylebook:
The trend is toward more machines and lesspeople. (This should be fewer people because we’re referring to
than 10 applicants applied. (individuals)
I had less than $50 in my pocket (one amount)
I had fewerthan 50 $1 bills in my pocket. (individual items)
She was fewerthan 60 years old. (This should be less because we’re
referring to a one period of time, not individual years.