Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Less vs. Fewer: A closer look

In Good Grammer: Them's the Rules on May 27, 2014 at 1:34 am

In a previous article, WordPlay made clear a simple distinction between the words “less” and “fewer:”

“Less,” as a descriptive adjective, pertains to amounts. “Fewer” pertains to numbers.

Examples: “There is less gin in the bottle than there was last night.” “There are fewer tar balls on the beach this year.”

A basic understanding of this principle is quite sufficient–most of the time. What is one to do to do, however, with a dilemma like the following?

A. We have less than two hours.



We have fewer than two hours.

Two hours, certainly, is a matter of numbers, not amounts. Or is it?

Actually, neither A nor B is the correct answer. Either C or D, below, are grammatically acceptable:

C. We have less than two hours’ time.

D. We have less time than two hours.









Free ebook

In Good Grammer: Them's the Rules on May 9, 2014 at 1:25 am

Smashwords cov. pic (2)

download free ebook @ smashwords.com

Good Grammar: Them’s the Rules. Author I.M. Knott has been a teacher, tutor, editor, and columnist. Knott’s unusual insights into proper English usage are well worth a free read.

Price: Free!