The Difference Between Fewer and Less

It is easy to confuse the difference between fewer and less because they are very similar in  meaning. This post will show you how to use each of those words correctly.

The Difference Between Fewer and Less

Image by ArtsyBee (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

The Elements of Style perfectly explains the difference between fewer and less: “Less refers to quantity, fewer to number.

For example: “My sister wants to drink less coffee.” In this example, “less coffee” refers to quantity, not number (we aren’t counting actual coffee or cups of coffee).

For example: “My sister drank fewer cups of coffee today than she drank yesterday.” In this example, “fewer cups” refers to the actual number of cups of coffee that was drunk.

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The above explanation is the traditional usage for fewer and less. Grammar girl offers a different rule: “The Singular vs Plural rule.”

Use less when using singular nouns and use fewer when using plural nouns.

Let’s go back to the examples above:

For example: “My sister wants to drink less coffee.” In this example, coffee is not only used quantitatively it is also a singular noun.

For example: “My sister drank fewer cups of coffee today than she drank yesterday.” In this example, the actual cups of coffee can be counted and cups is a plural noun.

I like Grammar Girl’s rule because it covers a lot of exceptions that are not covered by the traditional fewer/less rule such as money, time, etc.

For example: “Jeff made $300 less income this month.” Technically, $300 (three hundred dollars) is plural but we usually treat money as a singular noun. Thus making less the correct choice.

The same is true for time, distance, and even weight. We often treat them as singular nouns so it is correct to use less when referring to these concepts.

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5 Online Resources to Improve Your Writing

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In today’s digital age, writing well is essential. It is particularly important if you want to make money selling information products or self-publishing a book. If you write poorly, you may not be taken seriously as an expert in your field. Also, bad writing can affect your review rating on Amazon.com (or other review websites) and ultimately affect your sales.

Therefore, I thought I would share some of my favorite writing websites. If you need a little writing help, or you want a quick resource for when you have a writing question, here are some great websites to keep handy:

1. Writing From Your Soul. Dawn is a fellow former AssistU colleague and is amazing! She  focuses on content creation and offers several writing programs and coaching services. A few years ago, I purchased Dawn’s “Writing from the Soul Intensive Toolkit” and I am convinced that using her system is one of the reasons I graduated from college this May “Summa Cum Laude” (high honors).

2. Grammar Girl. This site offers tons of writing advice and tips. (It also had tons of other kids of tips, too!)

3. The Elements of Style. This is the online version of the well-known grammar handbook. A must-have for any writer.

4. Writer’s Digest. Go here for general writing tips, forums and writing groups, competitions and information about getting published.

5. The Working Writer’s Coach. This resource is a great resource for freelance writers and those looking to be published. She also has writing tips and other resources you may find useful.

Coming Soon: I am in the process of finishing up a “sister” website to this one called http://www.grammarplace.com/. On this website you will find weekly videos offering practical, easy to implement, grammar tips.

What’s your favorite writing resource? Do take a moment to share it in the comments!

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P.S. You can download a free printable version of this list here. (Subscribers can access this download on their private page.)

*I am not an affiliate for any of these websites nor are there any affiliate links in this post.