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    #1

    Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    I know the difference between less and fewer, but I tend to use 'less sweets' because it sounds right to me. Am I right?

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    I know the difference between less and fewer, but I tend to use 'less sweets' because it sounds right to me. Am I right?
    If you mean "sweets" in the sense of "dessert", then "less sweets" is correct.
    If I only have half the amount of plum pudding on my plate, I have "less sweets" than you do.

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    #3

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    If you mean "sweets" in the sense of "dessert", then "less sweets" is correct.
    If I only have half the amount of plum pudding on my plate, I have "less sweets" than you do.
    Thank you. Sweets is regarded as uncountable when used to mean dessert?


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    #4

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    Thank you. Sweets is regarded as uncountable when used to mean dessert?
    No, I would not say so "sweets" is uncountable when used to mean "dessert". Sweets in countable and one should say "fewer sweets". If it's plural, it's countable. If it can take "a" (or "an"), indefinite article, it's countable.

    We say "You shouldn't eat so many sweets", not "You shouldn't eat so much sweets" regardless of whether we are talking about dessert or individual sweets.

    In US English, "candy" is more common, so we would say, "You shouldn't eat so much candy". The noun candy is uncountable, though it can occur as a countable noun, and, therefore, as a plural. Some nouns have both a countable and an uncountable usage. However, I would not take a plural noun, such as "sweets", to be uncountable.

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    #5

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    No, I would not say so "sweets" is uncountable when used to mean "dessert". Sweets in countable and one should say "fewer sweets". If it's plural, it's countable. If it can take "a" (or "an"), indefinite article, it's countable.

    We say "You shouldn't eat so many sweets", not "You shouldn't eat so much sweets" regardless of whether we are talking about dessert or individual sweets.

    In US English, "candy" is more common, so we would say, "You shouldn't eat so much candy". The noun candy is uncountable, though it can occur as a countable noun, and, therefore, as a plural. Some nouns have both a countable and an uncountable usage. However, I would not take a plural noun, such as "sweets", to be uncountable.
    Thank you.

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    #6

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    I agree with Ray that in many varieties of modern spoken English, the distinction is no longer so strict as it was.

    If we take "sweets" as a type of confection, "eat less sweets and you'll be healthier" is natural enough.

    But it is true that many written texts would insist on "fewer" sweets.


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    #7

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I agree with Ray that in many varieties of modern spoken English, the distinction is no longer so strict as it was.

    If we take "sweets" as a type of confection, "eat less sweets and you'll be healthier" is natural enough.

    But it is true that many written texts would insist on "fewer" sweets.
    I let things like signs that say "12 items or less" go at the supermarket checkouts. Though I do plan to raise the issue one day and get a petition going to change the signs.

    I'm mostly for descriptivist viewpoints, but I see this as a matter of logic when considering how "less" and "few" are defined. I hear this usage of "less" from time to time, and I can't allow myself to use it.

    Last edited by PROESL; 28-Sep-2009 at 02:33.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    Thank you. Sweets is regarded as uncountable when used to mean dessert?
    Yes, that's right. If "sweets" means "dessert" it's uncountable.

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    #9

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    No, I would not say so "sweets" is uncountable when used to mean "dessert". Sweets in countable and one should say "fewer sweets". If it's plural, it's countable. If it can take "a" (or "an"), indefinite article, it's countable.

    We say "You shouldn't eat so many sweets", not "You shouldn't eat so much sweets" regardless of whether we are talking about dessert or individual sweets.

    In US English, "candy" is more common, so we would say, "You shouldn't eat so much candy". The noun candy is uncountable, though it can occur as a countable noun, and, therefore, as a plural. Some nouns have both a countable and an uncountable usage. However, I would not take a plural noun, such as "sweets", to be uncountable.
    "We" say "You shouldn't eat so much sweets", meaning "You shouldn't eat so much "dessert".
    What the hell does candy have to do with it? If you eat candy for dessert in Boston, that's fine. But eventually, you'll have to realise not all learners are from Boston.
    Do you say:
    "You shouldn't eat so many grits"
    "Don't give the cow so many molasses"
    "You should eat fewer cornflakes for breakfast".
    Perhaps you do. We don't.


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    #10

    Re: Less sweets or fewer sweets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "We" say "You shouldn't eat so much sweets", meaning "You shouldn't eat so much "dessert".
    What the hell does candy have to do with it? If you eat candy for dessert in Boston, that's fine. But eventually, you'll have to realise not all learners are from Boston.
    Do you say:
    "You shouldn't eat so many grits"
    "Don't give the cow so many molasses"
    "You should eat fewer cornflakes for breakfast".
    Perhaps you do. We don't.
    Well, excuuuuuuuuse meeeeee! Please.

    The questions are not directly related to the original topic. They are non sequiturs in my opinion, and I don't need to oblige by replying to them. They're simple academic questions in the context of this discussion.

    You said "what the hell". "What the hell"? Are you serious?

    Last edited by PROESL; 28-Sep-2009 at 08:29.

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