Fewer or Less?

How do these similar words work differently?

The first pile has fewer coins than the second and third.


"Fewer" means "not as many."



Opposites "many" and "fewer" are both used with countable items.

If you can count the item, use fewer.

Example: There were fewer bottles of water after we gave one to every guest.

(Alternative: There were not as many bottles of water after we gave one to every guest,)

There is not as much wheat to harvest this year because we had less rain.


Less means "not as much."

Opposites "much" and "less" are both used with uncountable items.

If the item is uncountable, use less.

Example: We had less time to enjoy our vacation because I was called back to work.

(Alternative: We didn't have much time to enjoy our vacation because I was called back to work.)


"Time" is uncountable, but "times" are countable.

Unfortunately, we had less time to play the game this weekend.

Unfortunately we could play the game only a few times this weekend.


Seconds, minutes, and hours are countable: Use "few."

We played the game a few hours this weekend which is less time than I wanted.

Playing the game required just a few minutes to set up which is less time than I expected.


Wheat and rain are uncountable: Use "less."

Stalks of wheat and drops of rain are countable, so use "fewer."

New Jersey grows less wheat than Kansas does.

I felt a total of two drops of rain hit my nose which is fewer than I expected.


Use "less" when referring to "money" in general, but use "fewer" when referring to units of money.

Less tax money is spent on education every year.

Fewer tax dollars are spent on education every year.


Parlay Vacay wants so much for fewer people to struggle with English, so we teach many ways to make it less difficult here in the Layer Cake English English Fluency blog and podcast.


We'll see you at the next English Immersion Weekend, Lingo Parlor Live Meetup online, in your next private session with your coach, or here again on Layer Cake next week, whichever comes first.


Thank you!

 

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