Quartz2Quirkz

When Language Matters

Less is Fewer..Sometimes

Use of the word less when referring to a number of items has become common language usage. From TV reporters to written articles appearing everywhere, it is now acceptable to misuse “fewer” and “less.”

When you drink milk, less is okay. When you count crayons, fewer is better. You may have less milk than your sister, but you have fewer crayons. No one ever says “I have fewer milk than you.” The problem is, everyone always has “less” when referring to an amount – whether they have less or fewer.

A person’s professionalism and credibility is at stake each time a grammar mistake slips into a conversation, or a report which is not self-corrected. And yet, the use of less when fewer is the correct measure is becoming acceptable language usage. A little thought about proper usage could go a long way for a person who is concerned about public perception. Further, how others perceive the company being represented in professional conversations is also at stake. Does anyone even care?

Sometimes proper usage of words is not so incredibly important. It is quite important to use language by the rules when speaking to a group of people who are going to vote you into an office, hire you, or promote you, not to mention in public. For those who are conscientious of the rules of engagement, it does matter. Falling into bad habits or ignoring language rules altogether matter to some; why not simply go by the rules as a general rule to avoid any mistakes or lost opportunities because of it? Everyone is happier, not more happy, while fewer failures make better futures.

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