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Rant: Fewer and less are not synonyms.

Fewer and less are not synonyms. In short, fewer should be used when you can count objects, and less with continuous items. For example, you may have less time, or fewer hours, to achieve a task than you might have wished. I'm seeing this being used incorrectly all over the place at the moment, from TV to software. From now on, whenever I see it in a software program I will be filing a bug report. You have been warned.


few (fyū) pronunciation
adj., few·er, few·est.

   1. Amounting to or consisting of a small number: one of my few bad habits.
   2. Being more than one but indefinitely small in number: bowled a few strings.

n. (used with a pl. verb)

   1. An indefinitely small number of persons or things: A few of the books have torn jackets.
   2. An exclusive or limited number: the discerning few; the fortunate few.

pron. (used with a pl. verb)

A small number of persons or things: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

[Middle English fewe, from Old English fēawe.]


less (lĕs) pronunciation
adj. A comparative of little.

   1. Not as great in amount or quantity: had less time to spend with the family.
   2. Lower in importance, esteem, or rank: no less a person than the ambassador.
   3. Consisting of a smaller number. See Usage Note at few.


With the deduction of; minus: Five less two is three.
adv. Comparative of little.

To a smaller extent, degree, or frequency: less happy; less expensive.

   1. A smaller amount: She received less than she asked for.
   2. Something not as important as something else: People have been punished for less.


less than

   1. Not at all: He had a less than favorable view of the matter.

much (or still) less

   1. Certainly not: I'm not blaming anyone, much less you.

[Middle English lesse, from Old English lǣssa (adj.) and lǣs (adv.).]