Some Things Bear Repeating

Some Things Bear Repeating

Talking about how much or how many can easily get us into grammatical trouble.  Fewer or less, number or amount ~ are there really rules about this?  You bet!

Few and fewer refer to items we can count.

“I have a few more rubies in my crown than you have in yours.”

(We can count those rubies.)

“If you want fewer complaints, get yourself some more rubies.”

(We can count those complaints, too.)

Less refers to a mass of something that isn’t countable.

“I’d like a little less fairy dust.”

A quick way to remember:

  • One or two? Use “few”
  • A big mess? Use “less”

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And how about number and amount?

Number is for the things we can count:

“A large number of elves came to the castle.”

Amount is for an uncountable mass:

“There is always an amount of trouble when the elves come.”

Some examples might seem tricky:

“He gave the witches a large amount of money.”

“He ended up giving away a number of dollar bills.”

Some of you may now be thinking about the express lane at the grocery store where the signs incorrectly say,

“Ten items or less.”

Now you can feel smug.  And correct!

 

 

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