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.


Back to Usage.

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