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

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