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    • Join Date: Feb 2009
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    #1

    the number is less or fewer?

    dear teachers, please, help to see the correct variant -

    'the number of librarians is less than the number of sports staff' or ' the number of librarians is fewer than the number of sports staff'?

    thanks in advance


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #2

    Re: the number is less or fewer?

    Great question!

  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #3

    Post Re: the number is less or fewer?

    Quote Originally Posted by solnadya View Post
    dear teachers, please, help to see the correct variant -

    'the number of librarians is less than the number of sports staff' or ' the number of librarians is fewer than the number of sports staff'?

    thanks in advance
    You say the number of something is higher or lower than. You could also say greater/bigger/larger, or smaller than.


    • Join Date: Feb 2009
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    #4

    Re: the number is less or fewer?

    Dear Engee30, thank you very much for the prompt reply.


    David, could you please tell me what you think of it, too? I wonder why you did not.



    Thank you in advance,

    Solnadia
    Last edited by solnadya; 10-Apr-2009 at 06:36.


    • Join Date: Jul 2006
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    #5

    Re: the number is less or fewer?

    Usage note:
    Even though less has been used before plural nouns (less words; less men) since the time of King Alfred, many modern usage guides say that only fewer can be used in such contexts. Less, they say, should modify singular mass nouns (less sugar; less money) and singular abstract nouns (less honesty; less love). It should modify plural nouns only when they suggest combination into a unit, group, or aggregation: less than $50 (a sum of money); less than three miles (a unit of distance). With plural nouns specifying individuals or readily distinguishable units, the guides say that fewer is the only proper choice: fewer words; fewer men; no fewer than 31 of the 50 states.
    Modern standard English practice does not reflect this distinction. When followed by than, less occurs at least as often as fewer in modifying plural nouns that are not units or groups, and the use of less in this construction is increasing in all varieties of English: less than eight million people; no less than 31 of the 50 states. When not followed by than, fewer is more frequent only in formal written English, and in this construction also the use of less is increasing: This year we have had less crimes, less accidents, and less fires than in any of the last five years.

    Less definition | Dictionary.com

  2. SUDHKAMP's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: the number is less or fewer?

    When you know the exact count of both the things/articles/matters, then you use it is less than or more than. But if you are having an imagination/normative approach, then you use, fewer or few.
    For example, "The number of healthy people is always more than sick people in the society".
    But then you say, "There are a few number of people who speak more than two languages".


    I am not a teacher of English, just someone who loves the language.
    _____________
    SUDHKAMP


    • Join Date: Feb 2009
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    #7

    Re: the number is less or fewer?

    thank you, Svartnik and Sudhkamp very much


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #8

    Re: the number is less or fewer?

    David, could you please tell me what you think of it, too? I wonder why you did not.

    Because I'm not the only person in this big wide forum. It was a good question...and share and share alike: I don't want to cherry pick all the good ones!. By making a comment, it means that your thread comes up under MY Posts, so I can keep track of how it's going, and come in if I have something more to offer**.

    Notice the first clause: "The number is...".
    'the number...' takes a singular verb. In the singular, something is either 'more' or 'less'. In your sentence, it's 'less".

    ** You might notice how I don't seem to have anything to say when Barb-D and Susieddq - (alphabetically speaking) - respond.
    Funny that.
    Last edited by David L.; 10-Apr-2009 at 19:41.


    • Join Date: Feb 2009
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    #9

    Re: the number is less or fewer?

    David, thank you so much. I am happy you kept track ot it.

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