Word Confusion, part 1

The glass in the back has less Martini and fewer olives © Spirita | Dreamstime.com

In English like in (presumably) all other language there are words and grammatical concept that are just plain confusing, so confusing in fact, that sometimes native speakers don’t get it right.  In some cases that doesn’t matter too much because the words are rarely used but then there are some that are very common and those need explaining.

Lets start with the following pair: few/less

First the things they have in common: both are adjectives and both mean “small in amount, degree, or number”.  And here is where the difference lies:

Few is used with countable objects.  Examples: “I have fewer sweaters than Jane does.”  or “I only have a few dollars left.”

Less is used with uncountable objects.  Examples: “There is less juice in this glass.” or “I have less time for my hobbies these days.  I work too much.”

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