The Grammar Belle

Spiffing y'all up, one typo at a time

Sometimes “less” is more (appropriate). But not always.

Hey, y’all! Did ya know that “more” is not always partnered with “less”? It’s true. Sometimes “more” hangs out with “fewer.” Wanna know when to use which?

Fewer: things you can count one by one; a smaller number of items; followed by a plural noun

Less: an amount or quantity of something, such as water, air or effort; followed by a singular noun

I find myself fussing at my TV, yet again, when a toothpaste commercial says I’ll get “less cavities” or an automaker promises “less fill-ups.” If the things you’re talking about can be separated into individuals, then it’s “fewer.” But, if you’re talking about a whole bunch of something, of which you can’t separate the individual pieces, then it’s “less.” Make sense? In the simplest of terms, if the noun ends in “s” then DON’T use “less.”

To review: I want someone to promise me fewer cavities while using less toothpaste. And I’d like to need fewer fill-ups because my new car uses less gas!

“Less” can also describe the degree or amount of an adjective, such as “less happy,” “less interested,” or “less attractive.” Can you tell the difference between these?

Fewer enthusiastic fans

Less enthusiastic fans

And now, a Friday cocktail for y’all. Perhaps, by sharing a poolside drink, I can speed along fall’s arrival. It’s still miserably hot here in Texas!

Poolside on Peachtree*

This is my favorite summertime drink—easy to drink on the couch after work, sitting at your daughter’s softball game, lounging by the pool, or wherever. It’s cool and refreshing, light on calories, and easy on your budget! You can use any variety and price point of white wine that you’d like—whatever’s in the fridge will do.

Grab your beverage essentials.

Ingredients:
Peach Citrus Fresca
White wine of your choice (I’ve pretty much tried ’em all!)
Squeeze of lime

Directions:
Fill your Styrofoam cup with ice. (This is the way all my beverage creations begin. Maybe I need to branch out more. It’s been hot here, y’all. I’ll change it up when fall gets here!) Alternate pouring in Fresca and wine until you like how it tastes. Add a squeeze of lime, stir, and enjoy!

*Peachtree is the main street in Atlanta, GA, a city I’ve never visited. I hear it’s a pretty fabulous place, so it’s definitely on my list!

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13 comments on “Sometimes “less” is more (appropriate). But not always.

  1. Aly
    September 7, 2012

    Can you take this beverage into school? Perhaps to watch a volleyball practice in the school gym? I bet there will be fewer readers that do! ; )

    • The Grammar Belle
      September 7, 2012

      Well, Aly, it depends on the school! Thank the Lord for Catholic schools. 🙂 (Fine use of “fewer,” by the way.) Thanks for reading!

  2. dr phil
    September 7, 2012

    I want more poolside drinks and more poolside days, but I fear the fewer hours of sunshine will cause the pool to cool off more making the water either less warm or more cool but not as hot. Yet the fewer hours of sunshine could mean more hours of darkness with the opportunity to wear less while drinking more and hopefully avoiding criticism. Somehow I think I am still getting in trouble, even if the grammar is correct. Not sure Grammar Belle can help ! (Somewhere in the last sentence is both an implied subject and an implied object with implied criticism; that contains a conflict between I and me, as was covered in a previous post.) drphil

  3. Laura
    September 9, 2012

    I love your illustration of “fewer” and “less” enthusiastic fans! Great example of why we have those two words.

    • The Grammar Belle
      September 10, 2012

      Thanks so much, Laura! I am spending a ton of time over at Terribly Write. I think you and I were separated at birth . . .

  4. Jon
    September 9, 2012

    May I please submit “forwards” —-heard that used today

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This entry was posted on September 7, 2012 by in Adult Beverages, Grammar Dilemmas, Something to Sip On, When Spellcheck Won't Help.

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