Less not necessarily more
Posted January 23, 2010on:
That old grammatical tussle between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ rumbles on, played out in the public forum of Britain’s supermarkets. About a year ago, Tesco took the decision to ditch ’10 items or less’ (above, right) in favour of ‘up to 10 items’. Sainsbury’s, however, sticks resolutely to ‘5 items or less’ (above, left), while Asda flaunts the rule entirely and extends the misuse of ‘less’ across all of its instore material (below).
Here’s how it works. You can have less of something if it is a single thing: less milk, less cheese. You can only have fewer items of a plural something: fewer onions, fewer eggs. SO: less means ‘not as much’, whereas fewer means ‘not as many’.