Sunday, August 15, 2004

Grammar Police!! Spread 'em!!

It's not that I'm trying to be anal about anything, but I thought I would help you all out today with a little grammar lesson. There's a problem I see FAR too often from writers who appear to be excellent in almost every other aspect of the English language except this one. The problem is this:

If you are describing something you can COUNT, like apples, pencils, or dogs, for example, you use the word FEWER.

Fewer apples, fewer pencils, fewer dogs.

If you are describing something in amounts, like sugar or water, or something that is not in a plural form, like sandpaper, you use the word LESS.

Less sugar, less water, less sandpaper.

But if you're describing how many SHEETS of sandpaper you need, you say you need FEWER sheets of sandpaper because you can count how many sheets you need. If you're saying you need a different amount of sandpaper but not a specific number of sheets, you say you need LESS sandpaper.

I suppose an easy way to remember these rules is to consider whether you're describing something in a plural form.

I hope I've informed you all today, and hopefully I haven't confused you. I just wanted to clear that up because I see less and fewer misused more than they need to be.

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