When to use “less” and “fewer”

Express check-out lanes often mention that they accept “X items or less.” Ooops. Typically, less refers to aggregate amounts while fewer refers to precise numbers or quantities. (I spotted this on a Web site for PR professionals: “[Ms. X] is one of less than 20 nationwide to earn [the award].” No, no, no!!!)

Less waste is generated since we switched to the new process.

The latest model consumes less fuel than earlier versions.

Use fewer when you know the number or quantity.

Twelve fewer people attended this year’s conference.

Our 2005 model has five fewer moving parts.

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Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy



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