The War on Error

Less not necessarily more

Posted on: January 23, 2010

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’.

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1 Response to "Less not necessarily more"

[…] Spotted on the side of a Tommee Tippee breastpump box (the glamour). If you’re going to make up reviews (FYI, it’s the shittest piece of equipment I’ve ever used, so these glowing reports have to be fictional), then at least use the correct grammar. It’s ‘fewer’, not ‘less’. […]

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