Grammar-ease – Less versus fewer

Live to Write - Write to Live

Welcome to a new grammar tip.

I like finding ways to remember grammar ‘rules’ and when something clicks for me, it might also click for someone else.

Let’s dive in today with the less/fewer differences. Less is used with mass nouns and fewer is used with count nouns. A mass noun, also referred to as an ‘amount word’, is something that is measured in bulk – clutter, water, snow, milk, syrup, etc. A count noun, also referred to as a ‘number word’, is something you can count – books, pens, cards, paperclips, oranges, etc.

Examples:

There are ____ boys in class than on the roster.

Can you count boys? Yes. Use fewer.

There was _____ snow this year than last year, so the kids had _____ snow days to make up.

Can you count snow? No. Use less. Can you count days? Yes. Use fewer.

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