Thursday, 21 June 2007

Few vs Less

Sign at the checkout of a supermarket: “Ten items or less”. This is INCORRECT.

You can count the items, so you need to use the number word “fewer”. These nouns are countable.
e.g. : "Ten items or fewer." This is CORRECT.

If you can’t count the substance, then you should use “less”. These nouns are uncountable.
e.g. : "You should eat less meat." This is CORRECT.

Original idea from


LEW said...

atually, the signs at a supermrket are not worng if you take into consideration that you are talking about itemas that both can and cannot be count. I mean; since you don't really know what a costumer is going to buy, you can't guess if it's something counttabe or not, BESIDES, when you are talking about both countable and non-coutable nouns as a group (e.g.:a bG WITH SUGAR [non-countable]and APPLES [ountable]) then you use less NOT FEWER

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the sign refer to 'items' which are countable. The sugar, while the grains are considered by most as uncountable, is sold as an item which is countable. Just like fresh green beans, they are probably countable, but the 30 I buy are sold as "one item". Just my two cents (or fewer) ;)

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