- Fewer and less are the opposite of “more,” but that doesn’t mean these words are always interchangeable.
- Use fewer when referring to a plural noun.
- Use less for words that are singular nouns.
- ○ There were fewer seats than expected.
- ○ I had less water in my bottle compared to everyone else.
Fewer and less are often used incorrectly. There’s a popular rule that teaches fewer is for countable nouns and less is for uncountable nouns. But this rule has exceptions. For example, although money can technically be counted (in dollars and coins, for example), it’s still considered an uncountable noun. That’s why it’s grammatically incorrect to say “fewer money.” The rule you should keep in mind instead is to use fewer for plural nouns and less for singular nouns.
When To Use “Fewer”
A plural noun (person, place, thing, or idea) indicates that is more than one of that said noun. Fewer is like saying not as many, and should be used with these types of nouns.
Cecilia’s goodie bag had fewer toys than Julian’s.
In the sentence above, fewer is used because toys is a plural noun.
When To Use “Less”
A singular noun indicates that there is only one of that person, place, thing, or idea. Less equates to saying not as much, and should be used with these types of nouns.
The lake had less water compared to when I visited last year.
Because “water” is a singular noun, you would use less to describe it.
“Fewer” vs. “Less” Examples
Below, you’ll find a few more examples of how to use fewer or less correctly.
Grandma’s recipe calls for
Grandma’s recipe calls for fewer apples.
fewer greenery in the world today than there was 20 years ago.
Unfortunately, there’s less greenery in the world today than there was 20 years ago.
less schools in this district.
There are fewer schools in this district.
Remember the Singular/Plural Rule
Using the countable/uncountable rule to decide whether to use fewer or less is not always reliable. The safest bet is to use the singular/plural noun rule: use fewer when modifying a plural noun and less when modifying a singular noun. But if you want to guarantee fewer mistakes in your writing, then make sure to use LanguageTool as your writing assistant. This intelligent, multilingual text editor will ensure flawless writing by checking for spelling and grammar mistakes as you type.