<Fewer/Less> than one percent of Spanish students around the world ...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by epistolario, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. epistolario

    epistolario Senior Member

    Philippines
    Tagalog
    I know that you use few for count nouns and less for noncount nouns. I'm asking because my word processor is asking me to change fewer to less in the ff context:

    Fewer
    than one percent of Spanish students around the world have mastered the subjunctive.
     
  2. It is true that with percents, kilos, tonnes, litres and other words of measurement "less" is used, not "fewer". It is probably because the reference is made to the whole bulk rather than counting the units of measurement one by one.
     
  3. Floob Junior Member

    England
    England - English
    I'd wait to see what other people think, but I don't see anything wrong with that sentence! I think I'd say fewer, or less than. :)
     
  4. TheAmzngTwinWndr

    TheAmzngTwinWndr Senior Member

    California, USA
    United States
    I don't know which is more correct, but I've heard both in common usage.
     
  5. Tabac Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest (USA)
    U. S. - English
    I think it depends on what your reference is, students or percent. Students (plural > fewer); percent (singular noun of quantity > less).

    I would be wary of one who argues too strongly one way or the other.
     
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  7. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I think students are more obviously countable than a congregation, and Tabac is going to be even warier of me.

    There are fewer of the students, so there are fewer than 1% of the students; there is less than 1% of the butter.

    There are fewer students, so there are fewer than 1% of students. There is less than 1% of butter sounds odd, though less than 1% of butter comes from goats is fine.

    For some reason, less than 1% of students sounds much less wrong than less than 1% of the students, but I'd still say it was wrong.
     
  8. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Your sentence is fine grammatically, despite the nagging spell-checker, however note that "Spanish students" (like English students, etc.) can be either students of Spanish citizenship OR students of the Spanish language.

    I would say something like "Fewer than one percent of Spanish-language students around the world have mastered the subjunctive."

    I know. I'm being picky since "around the world" gives a hint.
     
  9. TheFury New Member

    Arabic
    I think "less" is better than fewer!
     
  10. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    The Associated Press Stylebook - the bible for nearly all newspapers and journalism students in the United States, says "fewer" since it refers to individuals.
     
  11. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Try it this way.

    Would you say?:

    1. How many do 1% of the students come to?

    or

    2. How much do 1% of the students come to?

    If you'd prefer 1. then surely it should be fewer.
     
  12. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I vote with Tabac.

    If your focus is "students", fewer than 1%.

    If your focus is "per cent", less than 1%.

    I, too, would be wary of anyone arguing too strongly one way or the other.
     
  13. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    But, Loob, you would never say How much do 1% of the students come to?, would you? You must explain to me why the fact doesn't matter, before you start being wary of anyone.
     
  14. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    TT, I prefer "how many does 1% of the students come to?"

    So I'm not sure your question is conclusive:D
     
  15. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Aw come on guys, you are discussing eccentric and unreal questions. It's no wonder you are quibbling over the answers. How many angels can dance on the point of a full stop? Is a the circular part of a comma bigger or smaller than a full stop. What is the standard aspect ratio of the vertical part of an exclamation mark.
    The real world does not include asking the question "How many/much do/does 1% of the students come to?"
     
  16. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    So let's revert - willingly on my part - to Tabac's excellent answer, quoted above.
     
  17. moonglow

    moonglow Senior Member

    English – America
    <<Moderator note: I have merged moonglow's question with a previous, but hardly definitive, discussion>>

    Is it:

    Fewer or less than 10 percent of the people were affected.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2014
  18. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Your word processor has not mastered English grammar.
     
  19. Ivan_I

    Ivan_I Senior Member

    Russian
    It is very interesting which one is correct between

    and
    My wonky analysis:

    1) How many do 1% of the students come to? – How many (students) do one percent of the students come to?
    2) How many does 1% of the students come to? - How many (students) does one percent of the students come to?
    It seems to me that 2 is more logical.

    But wouldn't it be better to rephrase it, by and large, into something like

    3) How many students are 1 percent (of all the students)?
     

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