Volume 4, Number 30, May 15, 2000
The words “less” and “fewer” have similar meanings. However, they cannot be used interchangeably. Use “fewer” when referring to an amount that could be expressed as a specific number. Use “less” when making comparisons that do not lend themselves to numeric amounts.
Here’s an easy rule of thumb:
Use “fewer” to modify a plural noun.
Example: I have fewer papers to write than last year.
Use “less” to modify a singular noun.
Example: You’ll need less paper if you type your report.
Write fewer or less in the blanks. The first two have been done for you.
1. A lighter car will use less gas.
2. There are fewer bugs in the updated software than in the original version.
3. You’ll make ______________ errors when you take more time.
4. This job is ______________ difficult than I imagined.
5. I would have ordered ______________ alligator nuggets if I had noticed the price.
6. His speech could have had ______________ words!
7. I’ll have a little ______________ water in my cup, please.
8. Which candidate would spend ______________ money on ineffective programs?
9. Which candidate would spend ______________ dollars on ineffective programs?
10. There are ______________ worms in my cream pie than in Angela’s.
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