Observe more. Ask questions.

I am the last person who should be writing about the English language, but here it goes.

The use of less when we really mean fewer. What do I mean? Here is a real-life example in the wild brought to you by Tide.



Have you caught it yet? Yup. You’re right, they’ve used less when they meant fewer. Aggghhh! Right? Okay, you probably aren’t bothered by it like I am, but I hope you appreciate my frustration. Maybe not.

In hopes that this confusion and seemingly common misuse does not go the way of literally (see Jane Fonda’s brilliant performance when she sheds light on yet another illustration of how we have collectively botched the language), all you have to do is remember this simple rule:

Fewer is used when discussing things which are counted; fewer cats in shelters. Less is used to when referring to “quantity or amount among things that are measured”; less confusion.

After my previous Jane Fonda outburst, I appreciated this passage from a usage post from Merriam-Webster:

This rule is simple…but it’s not accurate for all usage…less is also sometimes used to refer to number among things that are counted.

This isn’t an example of how modern English is going to the dogs. Less has been used this way for well over a thousand years…

— Merriam-Webster