Cac The Proofreader back with another WORD WAR! Today, LESS versus FEWER is on tap. And it can be quite tricky.
LESS basically means not as much and is used when you cannot count the items you’re referring to; in other words, if it’s a singular “mass” noun. Ask yourself if the noun in your intended sentence will be working with a countable or uncountable noun. Examples are: water, space, love. “I’ve been drinking less water than I used to.” Not an item you can count. “There’s less space in this closet.” Again, uncountable.
FEWER means not as many and is your choice when the noun IS countable. Example: “As my dog ages, she has fewer accidents.” “I make fewer grammatical mistakes since my training.” Both of these are countable noun items.
A great example for incorporating both words is: “If fewer people used disposable water bottles, there would be less plastic in landfills.” Countable and uncountable, respectively.
BIG TIP: A good way to test that a noun is truly uncountable is to try making a plural out of it, i.e., “I’d like fewer milks, please.” Doesn’t make sense, does it? Milk is not countable.
I hope you learned something today and that these make for smoother, stay-in-the-zone writing!
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833.I.PROOF.U/833.477.6638 HAPPY WRITING!
Great read! What about hair versus hairs? It is quite a recurring phenomenon to hear people say hairs and I think it is wrong. Is strands of hair the right way to go?