Less and fewer

My pet, Peeve,* and I have a bone to pick with some of you.

At Lucky’s Supermarket yesterday, a clerk said that if I had less than ten items she could check me out of the store through her unoccupied line. We all clear about the mistake she made?

Do not mix up “less” and “fewer.” They are not the same thing. If you’re talking about things that you can count — from grocery items to light years, it’s “fewer.” If you’re talking something you can’t count, it’s “less.”

So: fewer gallons but less water. Fewer people but less crowding. Fewer reasons to read this blog but less patience with my linguistic carping. Like that.

This shit matters, people.




*Thank you, William Safire, whose joke this is.

3 thoughts on “Less and fewer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s