Lance Scranton: Do you know the difference between ‘fewer’ and ‘less’?
December 19, 2017
Yes, I know! Only a teacher of English language and grammar would fret and fume about the general lack of attention to the apparent ignorance in our community regarding fewer and less. Maybe it would be better in the capable hands of Dr. Seuss, but he is no longer available to instruct the masses. There would be far fewer mistakes made had the good doctor spent a little time educating people as to the correct construction of these two very important words.
So, here we go; answer if you can — perhaps an early Christmas present for those in the know.
Was it Trump who received fewer or less votes than Clinton in the 2016 election? Will a calculator cause you fewer or less mistakes on math equations? Does an adult have less or fewer bones than a baby?
Sure, it may not be the most important issue as we get closer to the Christmas season, but should we sit still as fewer and fewer people know the difference between things that can be counted and the quantity and degree of something?
What about the overproduction of negativity when sentences are constructed out of doubly incorrect forms, such as water that doesn't contain any or no calories? What about John, who doesn't know anything or nothing about hang-gliding?
How about comparisons that strain the logic of even the most patient purveyor of words? Does Dave have more endurance than any swimmer I know or any other swimmer I know? Is Mr. Bucks richer than anyone in our town or anyone else in our town? Do you like pizza or steak better or best ? Of all the elementary schools in town, which is better, or is it best?
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Just circle the correct form to make each sentence standard, and your Christmas present is knowing that your English teachers weren't failures and this old English teacher will know that Santa has fewer people to worry about as his sled becomes less filled with letters from those who can hardly wait to open their presents on
Unless you don't care about no bunches of words that don't mean nothin' anyway! Regardless, have a wonderful time sharing this season with those you love the most and even the ones you don't — may they be few and have less effect on you than any others.
Merry Christmas to all — and to all a good grammar lesson!
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.