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Jordan Heron - The Vanity Card Series

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Pet Peeve of the Week time!

The improper use of the words "fewer" and "less".

This is not complicated, people! Although I'm sure I'm about to make it so.

"Fewer" is used in reference to things that have or could have a distinct count. A separateness, an individuality. If it helps, Stephanie refered to this as "digital" reduction.
"Less" is used for a quantity that is not meant to be specifically subdivided or viewed as individual elements. Again, if it helps, Stephanie refered to this as an "analog" reduction.

Water has a generic quantity. There is no agreed unit for water. Of course, there are many possible units that water could be divided into. But when you just say "water", it is an amorphous mass. Therefore, you have "less water". You do NOT have "fewer water".

Molecules are distinct units. You can have one molecule, or two, or many. When you say "a molecule", you mean one. Therefore, while you have "less water" in the glass, you would have "fewer water molecules" in the glass. You do NOT have "less molecules".

Have we got that now???
If people stop reading these vanity cards because I am condescending, I have FEWER readers, readers being distinct things. I do not have less readers.
If you are unimpressed with my rants, you have LESS regard for me, regard geing a generic thing without specific measurable units. You do not have fewer regard for me.

People tend to the generic, I believe, and use "less" a lot. I often see "less" used when it should be "fewer". However, I find the opposite error to be quite uncommon.

Anway, it would improve my life greatly (I was going to say "measurably", but I couldn't decide what unit of measure I would use) if people made FEWER mistakes, and used incorrect terminology LESS often.

My thanks to all of you for complying.

21 September 2011 AD
21 September 51 JHE

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