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Fewer vs. Less: How to use less and fewer in a sentence

Less is a term suitable to qualify objects (either in terms of qualities or quantities) that are uncountable and in a smaller amount. Fewer is a comparative form of few used for qualifying small countable nouns that you can count one by one.

Kimberly Ann Potts
Kimberly Ann Potts

Less vs. Fewer - Meaning

Less

Less is a term suitable to qualify objects (either in terms of qualities or quantities) that are uncountable and in a smaller amount. It is also suitable for singular mass nouns.

Fewer

Fewer is a comparative form of few used for qualifying small countable nouns that you can count one by one.

Difference between less and fewer

The difference between less and fewer is expressed based on the following criteria:

Countability

Less is for objects that are uncountable individually, while Fewer is for objects you can count one by one.

Nouns

Less is for mass nouns and uncountable nouns, while Fewer is for plural countable nouns.

Part of speech

Less is the comparative form of little while Fewer is the comparative form of few.

Less vs. Fewer – When to use each word in a sentence

Follow the rules below on how to use Less or Fewer while writing or expressing yourself.

Rules on when to use “Less” in a sentence

Below are some rules you can apply when looking at a less vs. fewer comparison in making up a sentence.

Money

Use Less when talking about money generally (i.e., in no specific amount).

For example

“Richard was given less money for his upkeep” is correct, unlike “Richard was given fewer money for his upkeep.”

Time

Make use of “less” when working with time.

For example, it should be

Sonia spends less time in office than last year.

not

Sonia spends fewer time in office than last year.”

Human attributes

Human attributes such as wickedness and honesty should take the word “less.”

For example, it should be

“Mr. Stone is less honest than his friend.”

The other doesn’t even make sense at all.

Uncountable substances and materials

Substances and materials that are uncountable, e.g., water, salt, pepper, air, should take the word “less.”

For example, it should be

“Ensure Tony adds less salt to the soup”

not

“Ensure Tony adds fewer salt to the soup.”

Using less with “Than”

Less can also be applicable in numerical values together with “than. Its partnership with “than”

For examples:

Paul was punished for having less than 60% in his exam.
Her weight is less than 60kg.

Rules on when to use “Fewer” in a sentence

Below are some rules you can apply when looking at a less vs. fewer grammar comparison when making up a sentence.

Cities

Use fewer when talking about a City.

For example, the correct statement would be

“New York City has fewer buildings in 2009 than now”

and not

“New York City has less buildings in 2009 than now.”

Human beings

Use “fewer” when talking about human beings, whether men, women, etc.

For example, the correct statement would be

“Fewer women are willing to become housewives”

as opposed to

“Less women are willing to become housewives.”

Money

Use “fewer” when talking about specific amounts of money, e.g., $50, 50 Euros.

For example, the correct statement would be

“I spent fewer than $100 on groceries”

not

“I spent less than $100 on groceries.”

Uncountable objects

Objects that are countable, e.g., books, take “fewer” instead of “less.”

For example, it should be

“Adults read fewer books than children”

not

“Adults read lesser books than children.”

And that’s all about the difference between less and fewer and how to make the best use of the two words. We hope you can make a perfect sentence with less or fewer when writing or expressing yourself.

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Kimberly Ann Potts

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