Less and Fewer

REMEMBER:

GREEN for RIGHT
RED for WRONG

WHY IS THERE A PROBLEM?

There is a tendency to say

There are less spectators in the stadium this week.

instead of

There are fewer spectators in the stadium this week.

EXPLANATION OF RULE:

Less is used when referring to one thing / quantity – or what is regarded as one thing – while fewer is generally used to indicate more than that. (SINGULAR & PLURAL)

REMEMBER:

L.S. (less for singular) & F.P. (fewer for plurals)

USAGE:

I have less money in my wallet this week. (a general statement of one’s finances)
I have fewer banknotes in my wallet this week. (a countable number of notes)

I have less space in my new house.

I ordered less gas for the tank from the fuel merchant yesterday.
I ordered less gas bottles from the fuel merchant yesterday.
I ordered fewer gas bottles from the fuel merchant yesterday.

The striker had scored less goals by Christmas than the midfielders.
The striker had scored fewer goals by Christmas than the midfielders.

Mark had less €2 coins in his pocket than I. (had)
Mark had fewer €2 coins in his pocket than I. (had)

William had less milk in his bowl of cereal than Martina had in her bowl.
William had fewer milk cartons in his fridge than Martina had in hers.

Tiger Woods recorded less strokes in Round 4 than in Round 1.
Tiger Woods recorded fewer strokes in Round 4 than in Round 1.

I have fewer power in my drive than Tiger Woods.
I have less power in my drive than Tiger Woods.

QUICK REVISION:

Generally, the NOUN following fewer is a PLURAL NOUN.
Generally, the NOUN following less is in the SINGULAR FORM.

TEST:

Write less or fewer in these sentences.

1. There was ________ noise in the classroom after the Principal arrived.
2. ___________children went on the school tour to Waterford this year.
3. There were ____ penalties awarded this season at Barcelona’s Nou Camp.
4. There was __________ spending this Christmas.
5. There’s _______ distance to travel due to the construction of the new bridge.
6. There were _________ incidents of fraud reported this year.
7. There’s a lot __________ traffic on Christmas Day.
8. ______ goals were scored in this year’s All-Ireland Final than in last year’s.
9. I’ve _________ mileage done on the clock this year.
10. _____ new cars were registered in 2011 than in all other years this century.

ANSWERS:

1. less 2. Fewer 3. fewer 4. less 5. less 6. fewer 7. less 8. Fewer 9. less 10. Fewer

KEY ELEMENT OF LESSON:

Less is used alongside things which are regarded as a single entity.
Fewer is used with  countable items greater than one when regarded as individual numbers.

DON’T FORGET:

less gas but fewer gas bottles
less travel but fewer travellers
less possession but fewer scoring chances
less chaos but fewer chaotic incidents
less news but fewer news items
less trouble but fewer troublesome players
less noise but fewer noisy kids
less waste but fewer wasters
less time but fewer timers
less hassle but fewer hecklers


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