Less vs. fewer! Have you ever get confused with less vs. fewer? If you have, there’s no reason to worry because these two words can cause problems for anyone. They both are opposites of “more” but aren’t interchangeable, so you need to be very careful when you choose to use one or the other in a sentence. Thankfully, the difference between them is pretty simple.
Less vs. Fewer
FEWER means “not as many”, while LESS means “not as much”. Therefore, the difference between these two words is that the first refers to countable nouns, while the second refers to uncountable ones.
- We must try to spend less money.
- Women commit fewer crimes than men.
When to Use Less vs. Fewer
Look at the sentence, “John got higher grades this year because he’s spent fewer/ less hours playing computer games than before”. “Hours” is a countable noun, and this is the reason why, in this case, you should use fewer.
What about this example, “With Mary’s food in my fridge, there’s less space for me to put mine”? Here, “space” is an uncountable noun, since you can’t put an “s” at the end of it. This means that the word that fits is less.
Sometimes two sentences can have the same meaning and look almost the same, but you’ll still need to use different words in them. One example would be the following pair:
- I drank fewer bottles of water on Saturday than on Sunday.
- I drank less water on Saturday than on Sunday.
In the first sentence, you’re speaking about bottles that are countable, so you use fewer. However, in the second sentence, you’re speaking about uncountable water, so you use less.
Of course, there are exceptions that you need to be aware of. For instance, even though you can count money, you still need to use less when you’re talking about it, e.g. “I have less than a hundred dollars on my bank account”. The same applies to time and weight, e.g. “Alice has been studying Spanish for less than six months”, “This bag weighs less than two kilograms”.
Fewer vs. Less Examples
- We like to travel in the autumn when there are fewer tourists.
- Fewer people desire to live in the north of the country.
- Fewer workers are needed to solder circuit boards.
- There are fewer cars parked outside than yesterday.
- There seem to be fewer tourists around this year.
- The moon yields less light than the sun.
- People should eat less fat to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- The government is urging education authorities to spend less money.
- The marriage had lasted for less than two years.
- He won no less than 5000 in the lottery.
Difference between Fewer vs. Less | Picture
Less vs. Fewer: How to Use Fewer vs. Less in English?