Fewer vs. Less

Difference Between Fewer and Less

There are a lot of confusion between the two words ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ and differences as well. ‘Fewer’ is used with the countable nouns and can be used with nouns like animals, plants, objects etc. Let us have some examples.

1. He has fewer shoes than me.

 

2. There are fewer pigs in the pen.

 

3. Sam has fewer ideas than anyone else in the class.

 

4. Fewer of the alumni show each year in the school’s annual day.

 

5. There are fewer music performances this year in the school function.

‘Less’ is used with uncountable nouns and can be used with money, emotions, pleasure etc. Let us have some examples.

1. We hope there will be less snowfall this year.

 

2. There are less talent and more candidates in the field of acting.

 

3. Sandra is a less techno savvy than me.

 

4. Spend less time sitting idle and doing nothing.

 

We also use ‘less’ with adverbs and adjectives. Let us have some more examples.

1. He is less happy in my old age.

 

2. Andrew walks less fast than Sam

‘Fewer’ is a less used word than ‘less’, the key difference is that ‘less’ should be used in case of countable nouns and ‘fewer’ is used in case of uncountable nouns.

When ‘fewer’ indicates to the number, ‘less’ highlights the quality. ’Fewer’ can be used in case of plural and countable nouns. The phrase ’few in number’ then it is unnecessary. If ’in number’ is really necessary to be used, then we should use ‘rare, scarce, limited’ in place of few.

In informal English’ ‘less’ is used, however gradually it is replacing ‘fewer’. The use of the phrase ‘less freelancers’ instead of ‘fewer freelancers’ is incorrect, but is gradually accepted.

However linguistics experts maintain strict rules about the difference between the two terms. E.g. If you speak about fewer peaches then you must mean the number of peaches. However if you speak about lesser peaches, then you must be referring to the overall weight of the peaches. As ‘less’ is used with adverbs, ‘less freelancers’ will be ‘less amateurish.’

Summary-

  1. While ‘less’ is used with uncountable nouns, ‘fewer’ is used with countable nouns.
  2. Less is getting accepted in informal English, and will be used in place of ‘fewer’.

 

 

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