Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Less vs. Fewer: Avoiding Disneyland Crowds

Photo: doug_wertman/Flickr Creative Commons
Want to avoid huge crowds at Disneyland? Here's a tip from the Disneyland Without Kids site:
It goes without saying but there’s less people in the park when it’s suppose to rain or when kids are in school and since the weather is almost always good in Anaheim odds are your favor.
Yikes! Don't panic. We're not going to try to tackle everything that's wrong with this sentence. Instead, let's focus on the botched use of the phrase 'less people.'

Quick rule: Should you use fewer or less? Ask yourself: Can I count it?
  • Use fewer when you are referring to something you can count individually, such as pencils, cups, notebooks, or people.
  • Use less when you're talking about something that can be measured but not counted individually, such as sugar, trouble, or money. Okay, okay, of course you can count money. But you don't count "one money, two moneys, three moneys." You are actually counting dollars, or in some cases sums of money.

  • It goes without saying that there are fewer people in the park...

More examples:
  • Less money means fewer dollars.
  • The school hired less staff, which means that there are now fewer teachers.
  • The computer lab uses less paper, which results in fewer sheets of paper in the recycling bin.

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