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    #1

    fewer/less

    Hello!

    1) We use FEWER if we’re referring to people or things in the plural.
    2) We use LESS when we’re referring to something that can’t be counted or doesn’t have a plural (e.g. money, air, time, music, rain).

    2a) LESS is also used with numbers when they are on their own and with expressions of measurement or time.

    Example: Central Square is less than four miles away from the city centre.
    Can "fewer" also be used in this sentence?

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    #2

    Re: fewer/less

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Arctica:

    I love questions such as yours!

    Am I going to answer it? No.

    Like you, I am waiting for the answer from someone.

    I checked the "books" section of Google (where thousands of books are digitalized for our use), and I noticed that a few writers did use "fewer" in sentences similar to yours. That does NOT mean that they were necessarily correct. After all, many native speakers use incorrect English every day.

    I found one passage that I wanted to share with you (all the emphasis is mine):

    "During my days in corporate America, I technically lived fewer than 10 miles from my office. Unfortunately, thanks to traffic and congestion, those 10 miles took 90 minutes to drive. That's nine minutes per mile for those keeping score at home." -- Jeff Cohen in his 2008 book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Work Less, Earn More.

    Should his use of "fewer" be considered "wrong"? I do not know. Would it be marked "wrong" on a test? Probably.

    Is it possible that Mr. Cohen was thinking less of total distance and more of each individual mile? I am just asking.



    James

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    #3

    Re: fewer/less

    There's a very readable article on the subject here.

    (Be sure to read page 2 for exceptions to the general usage.)

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    #4

    Re: fewer/less

    It would be unusual to say "fewer than four miles from...".

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    #5

    Re: fewer/less

    Miles are in discrete, whole numbers which are countable. 'A few miles' is 2, 3 or 4 miles.
    Anything below four miles and in between whole numbers e.g. 3.7 miles is considered uncountable
    in terms of miles, and is 'less than four miles'. Does this make sense?

    not a teacher

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    #6

    Re: fewer/less

    Barb
    I was asking a question. I wasn't providing an answer

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: fewer/less

    I have restored it. The answer is "no."
    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.

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