“Less” or “fewer”?

People are often uncertain about when to use less and when to use fewer in a sentence. Here’s how to get it right.

 
You should use fewer if you are referring to people or things in the plural. For example:
 
People these days are buying fewer newspapers.
Fewer students are opting to study science-related subjects.
Fewer than twenty runners took part in the race.
 
 You should use less when you are referring to something that cannot be counted or doesn’t have a plural. For example:
 
It’s a better job but they pay you less money.
People want to spend less time in traffic jams.
Ironically, when I’m on tour, I listen to less music.
 
Less is also used with numbers when they are on their own and with expressions of measurement or time. For example:
 
His weight fell from about 125 pounds to less than 100.
Their marriage lasted less than two years.
Our apartment is less than four miles from the main campus.

 

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Grammar and usage