fewer and less. Real usage

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Wuisi

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I think I know the difference but does real usage match the rule or does it favour 'less'. Thanks.
 

riverkid

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I think I know the difference but does real usage match the rule or does it favour 'less'. Thanks.

You're right, Wuisi, it doesn't match the prescription.

M-W

less

usage The traditional view is that less applies to matters of degree, value, or amount and modifies collective nouns, mass nouns, or nouns denoting an abstract whole while fewer applies to matters of number and modifies plural nouns. Less has been used to modify plural nouns since the days of King Alfred and the usage, though roundly decried, appears to be increasing. Less is more likely than fewer to modify plural nouns when distances, sums of money, and a few fixed phrases are involved <less than 100 miles> <an investment of less than $2000> <in 25 words or less> and as likely as fewer to modify periods of time <in less (or fewer) than four hours>.
 

Wuisi

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Ok, thanks a lot. I think textbooks should also take usage into account. Sometimes they are crammed with rules and examples that are a bit far-fetched. I just needed confirmation and now I have it. Thanks again, and great explanation.
 
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