Monday, September 27, 2010

Fewer Or Less & A Word Among The Missing

Here’s a simple, general way to decide when to use the words “less” and “fewer”. If you can count whatever it is you are talking about, use fewer. If you can’t count it, use less. I am no grammarian, but it’s a rule which seems to be frequently broken.

The following sentence is correct:
I should spend less time knitting and buy fewer skeins of yarn.
I could reconstruct it this way:
I should spend fewer hours each day knitting and buy less yarn.
But the following sentence is not correct:
I should spend fewer time knitting and buy less skeins of yarn.

Grammar Girl has a detailed column on the topic. Grammar Monkeys have a brief audio explanation involving zombies.

As long as we’re on the topic of word usage, what the heck ever happened to the word “pled”. As in “She pled not guilty to the charges.” All I seem to hear on the news these days is “She pleaded not guilty.” I understand that pled is an alternative to pleaded. I also learned, after a bit of Googling, that its usage is disputed. But to my ear pled sounds right. And I don’t think it is due to my age, my having been born and raised in Rhode Island or my Scottish heritage.



Ms Brown Mouse said...

Less milk, fewer glasses of milk.
Less sand, fewer grains of sand.
I'd like to say fewer wars but I suspect reality is less!

Sue said...

That all sounds right to me, but I'm also not that great at grammar.

Definitely agree with you that 'pled' sounds better than 'pleaded', so that gets my vote.


Wendy said...

I still say pled but I don't say it often and i agree it sounds better than pleaded guilty.

cookiecrumb said...

I know you're right. It sounds right to my husband and I.

Joke! I hate "and I." We should write a book.

Pink Granite said...

Hi All -
We all have such good and reasonable ears!
It is funny what jumps off the page or off the TV screen or out of the radio and sets our grammar nerves twitching!

Roo said...

Ok here's one for you


I prefer...

Clappter..... see what you think ;o)

Pink Granite said...

Like Laugh, Laughing, Laughter!
Very good!