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    #1

    less/fewer

    Which is correct:

    1-I had one bishop less than him.
    2-I had one less bishop than him.

    3-I had one bishop fewer than him.
    4-I had one fewer bishop than him.


    5-I had one less bishop.
    6-I had one fewer bishop.
    (The context is obviously chess and I was one bishop down.)

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    #2

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    1-I had one bishop less than him. 2-I had one less bishop than him.

    3-I had one bishop fewer than him. 4-I had one fewer bishop than him.

    5-I had one less bishop. 6-I had one fewer bishop.
    In 1-4, some would insist on 'he' or 'he had' rather than 'him', though 'him' is very commonly used.

    There is no real difference between 1 and 2 or between 3 and 4.

    5 and 6 are fine, given appropriate context.

    There may be some discussion about 'less' and 'fewer' to come. I am happy with either word.

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    #3

    Re: less/fewer

    Thanks.

    Yes I know the almost-never-respected rule about 'less' and 'fewer'. I think there are two more possibilities but I am not quite sure they work:

    7-I had one bishop less.
    8-I had one bishop fewer.

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    #4

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    7-I had one bishop less.
    8-I had one bishop fewer.
    Fine, in my opinion.

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    #5

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    In 1-4, some would insist on 'he' or 'he had' rather than 'him', though 'him' is very commonly used.

    There is no real difference between 1 and 2 or between 3 and 4.

    5 and 6 are fine, given appropriate context.

    There may be some discussion about 'less' and 'fewer' to come. I am happy with either word.
    NOT A TEACHER.

    Why are you happy with either word? Bishops on a chess board are obviously countable (there are two on each side), so only "fewer" should be correct.

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    #6

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    Why are you happy with either word? Bishops on a chess board are obviously countable (there are two on each side), so only "fewer" should be correct.
    I am happy because I think both forms are acceptable today.

    1. For many native speakers of Br E, whether we like it or not, the less/fewer difference is dying. 'Less' is the popular choice.

    2. Personally, I stick with 'fewer' when we are clearly dealing wiith plurals, as in "The Scottish church has fewer bishops than its English counterpart". I don't like "less bishops", but I recognise that I am probably in a minority.
    In navi's examples, however:

    1-I had one bishop less than him
    2-I had one less bishop than him,

    the singular for "bishop" makes the solecism (if it be one) less glaring and, in my opinion, it is acceptable.

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    #7

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    the almost-never-respected rule about 'less' and 'fewer'
    It's hard to know where this rule will go; it's simpler with something like whom, which has simply fallen largely into disuse in many cases, though surviving after prepositions. With less/fewer there are two possibilities and some do still make a distinction, thoughit blurs a lot, but it seems unlikely that less will simply replace fewer. It's breached so frequently, that calling it a rule seems almost pointless, but the few/little distinction is in good health, so where this will end up is anyone's guess IMO.

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    #8

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It's hard to know where this rule will go; it's simpler with something like whom, which has simply fallen largely into disuse in many cases, though surviving after prepositions. With less/fewer there are two possibilities and some do still make a distinction, thoughit blurs a lot, but it seems unlikely that less will simply replace fewer. It's breached so frequently, that calling it a rule seems almost pointless, but the few/little distinction is in good health, so where this will end up is anyone's guess IMO.
    Ouch!

    I just have to but in.

    Less is for liquid, fewer is for countable items. No ifs or buts. That's it.

    I'd also argue that 'some do still make a distinction'. All my contemporaries would have a blue fit at the thought of only 'some'. In my circles this is just one of those inviolable rules. Language has to change of course, that's why English is so rich, but at the same time meanings that help describe or make valid distinctions should be preserved IMO.

    Maybe it's an age thing.

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    #9

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    With less/fewer there are two possibilities and some do still make a distinction, though it blurs a lot, but it seems unlikely that less will simply replace fewer. It's breached so frequently, that calling it a rule seems almost pointless, but the few/little distinction is in good health, so where this will end up is anyone's guess IMO.
    It's interesting that while 'less people' is commonly heard, 'little people isn't heard at all.

    This is probably because 'little' people could suggest the idea of 'small' people, but I suspect it's largely because not many people outside the classroom use 'few' and 'little'. I might have used 'few' instead of my italicised words in the preceding sentence in more formal situations, but 'not many' is more natural in everyday speech and writing, I feel.

    I often thought, when course books had units on 'little' and 'few,' that some of the example sentences sounded a little stilted to me - and I think I actually use the words more than many.

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    #10

    Re: less/fewer

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard1 View Post
    Less is for liquid, fewer is for countable items. No ifs or buts. That's it. For you - and, indeed, for me, in my own speech and writing. It's not true for a lot of people, though.

    All my contemporaries would have a blue fit at the thought of only 'some'. In my circles this is just one of those inviolable rules.
    It is among my older friends, but I had to explain the 'rule' to surprisingly many of the reasonably-educated native speakers who were trainees on Cert TESOL courses when I was a trainer. These trainees included my own son, who grew up in a family where the rule was observed, and went to a reasonable school and university for his first degree and MA. Nonetheless, he and many of his peers are (were, in his case) unaware that there was anything suspect about 'less people'.
    I've just tried the British National Corpus. 161 citations for 'fewer people' and only 27 for 'less people' (including a couple of 'the more they... the less people will..' which don't count). This would seem to argue against me. However, I suspect that the corpus does not truly reflect the percentage of 'less people' utterances in everyday conversation.

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