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Thread: fewer no less

  1. #11
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Yes, that's it! To make logical/mathematical sense, it should say "500, no more."
    No, saying that it was condensed means the effort was towards fewer words, therefore “no fewer” correctly limits the accomplishment. The problem is the conflation of “fewer than 500 words”, which is approximate, with “no less" which is precise; it grates the ear. Kind of like hearing, “why don’t you invite your entire friend [sic] to the party.”

  2. #12
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    It's a poor choice of expression for amazement when used right after a numerical figure.

  3. #13
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    It's a poor choice of expression for amazement when used right after a numerical figure.
    Again, no it's not, in my opinion. "He condensed the work down to 493 words, no less." reads much better with an exact numerical figure.

  4. #14
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    Re: fewer no less

    But Bob, the point was "no less" was being used to show excitement over the act, not to quanitfy the number of words.

    If you replaced "no less" with "by Jove!" you'd have the same sentiment expressed, but no one would try to pair "by Jove" with a number.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. #15
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    He condensed the work down to 493 words, no less.
    Do you think "no less" is a comment on the number of words? I did originally, but for that to make sense it must be "no more."

    Instead, it seems that "no less" is used as an expression to mean "can you believe it?" or something similar.

    If I wrote "You must write an essay of 500 words, no less" you would (hopefully) understand that I mean that you must have 500 words as a minimum.

    This literal meaning is what my mind goes to when reading this sentence. Since it was meant as an expression of wonder and not a literal limitation on the number that precedes it, I find it a poor expression to choose.

  6. #16
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Do you think "no less" is a comment on the number of words? I did originally, but for that to make sense it must be "no more."
    I stand by my comment that "no more" is incorrect. "No less", if reference to cardinality, is correct, unless you think that "no more" means "no more condensing", which to me is even more odd.

  7. #17
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    But Bob, the point was "no less" was being used to show excitement over the act, not to quanitfy the number of words.
    Ah, I see now, but I still think the same sort of conflation is occurring here. "No less" can invoke cardinality (although I see now that that is not the intent), which conflicts with the ambiguity of “less than 500”. I like the “by jove” suggestion.

  8. #18
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    Re: fewer no less

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    I stand by my comment that "no more" is incorrect. "No less", if reference to cardinality, is correct, unless you think that "no more" means "no more condensing", which to me is even more odd.
    "It was condensed to no more than 500 words."

  9. #19
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    "It was condensed to no more than 500 words."
    That is not the original construct. Try this:

    "He had managed to expand his vocabulary by 100 words, no more."

  10. #20
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: fewer no less

    The point of "fewer" is an upper limit. "No more" is also an upper limit. It was condensed to fewer than 500 words, no more.

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