Monday, October 22, 2012

Less vs. Fewer: Presidential Debate Grammar Check

Chad writes:
I've got one for you, Snarky. My social studies class has been reading from the transcript of the second debate between President Obama and Governor Romney. In this excerpt, Romney makes a grammar fail.
"But the key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school. And what’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people. I want you to be able to get a job. I know what it takes to get this economy going. With half of college kids graduating this year without a college — or excuse me, without a job and without a college-level job, that’s just unacceptable. And likewise, you got more and more debt on your back. So more debt and less jobs."
Where did Governor Romney go wrong? He used less instead of fewer to compare countable nouns.

Quick rule:
  • Use fewer when comparing countable nouns. Since the new parking garage was built, fewer cars are parked on the street. We can count cars.
  • Use less when comparing non-countable nouns. Sarah noticed less traffic on the county road after the state fair ended. Traffic can be measured but not counted.

  • So more debt and fewer jobs.

Did anyone hear any other grammar goofs during the debate? If so, please leave a comment.