27/10/12

FEWER OR LESS ?


It is not only learners of English who confuse less and fewer – some native speakers also frequently use them incorrectly.

But less and fewer are not actually so difficult to use correctly: less means ’a lower amount’ (menor cantidad de algo), while fewer expresses ‘a lower number’ (menor número de algo).
 In other words:
  • fewer and less are both the opposite of more;
  • we use fewer with countable nouns; Fewer con nombres contables
  • we use less with uncountable nouns. Less se usa con incontables.
Let’s look at some examples:
  • I’ve got less time than I had last year. (time = uncountable noun)
  • He’s got less money than his wife. (money = uncountable noun)
  • Low-fat milk has fewer calories than full-fat. (calories = countable noun)
  • The government built fewer houses last year. (houses = countable noun)

Easy-to-remember tip

If thinking about countable and uncountable nouns is a bit too technical for you, here’s an easy way to remember how to get less and fewer right: Use fewer when the noun is plural (e.g.doors, dogs, people, mistakes, days, etc.) and you will always be correct.

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