less /fewer

Discussion in 'English Only' started by xunilxunil, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. xunilxunil

    xunilxunil Banned

    Urdu
    According to Michael Swan Practical grammar book:

    3). Nouns can be dropped after less and Fewer if the meaning is clear.
    e.g - Some people go to church, but less/fewer than 20 years ago.

    Now, I want to know is the following 'less/fewr' used as 'pronoun' ?
    And , Is the example equivalent to 'Some people go to church, but less/fewer people than 20 years ago' (in case noun is not dropped)

    I am not sure whethere it is correct or not.



    Thanks.
     
  2. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    The sentence doesn't sound correct to me. Also, at first glance, it sounds as if "less"/"fewer" apply to "20 years".

    Some people go to church, but not as many as twenty years ago.
    Some people go to church, but less than the number twenty years ago.
     
  3. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    "Fewer" sounds right to me in that sentence, XX. I'd call it a pronoun because it replaces a noun in the second clause and refers to a noun that was mentioned in the first clause.

    "Fewer" in the original sentence does mean the same thing as "fewer people".
     
  4. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    The problem Barque identified, namely that it sounds (at first) as though the comparative reduces the number of years, not the number of people, can be fixed by inserting an echoing verb and/or subject:
    "but fewer do so than 20 years ago"; "but less than they did 20 years ago". In the former case, fewer is a pronoun, in the latter, less is an adverb, meaning people go to church less often now than 20 years ago.
     
  5. xunilxunil

    xunilxunil Banned

    Urdu
    You all make me extremely confused.
    It hasn't made sense to me yet.
    First : 'Some people go to church, but fewer people than 20 years ago' is euqal to 'Some people go to church, but less/fewer than 20 years ago' ?
    If Not, what is the correct sentence?

    AND

    In the following :
    'Some people go to church, but less/fewer than 20 years ago'

    fewer or less is used as pronoun?



    Thanks.
     
  6. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    I'm sorry you found the answers confusing, XX, but I did my best to answer your questions. I'll repeat what I wrote in post #3: 1. "Fewer" is a pronoun in the example. 2. "Fewer" in that sentence means the same thing as "fewer people".

    The others noted some ambiguity in the example, but commenting on that ambiguity doesn't really doesn't answer your questions.
     
  7. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    Well, forget the ambiguity (which is only temporary -- it only lasts as long as until you finish reading the sentence and find that it doesn't make sense as a modifier of "20 years").
    If "less" means "less people" (which is an (at least borderline) incorrect way of saying "fewer people"), then it's a pronoun.
    If "less" means "less often" or "less frequently", it's an adverb.
     
  8. xunilxunil

    xunilxunil Banned

    Urdu
  9. jokaec Senior Member

    Chinese - Hong Kong
    Since this couple had a baby, they communicate less and less and go travelling fewer and fewer.

    Are my usage "less and less" and "fewer and fewer" correct? Thank you.
     
  10. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    Since this couple had a baby, they communicate less and less and go travelling fewer and fewer. :cross:
    Since this couple had a baby, they communicate less and less and go travelling less and less. :tick:
     
  11. jokaec Senior Member

    Chinese - Hong Kong
    Thank you heypresto!
    Can I say "they go travelling fewer and fewer times"?
     
  12. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    Yes. That would be grammatically correct, but it doesn't sound to me as natural as 'less and less'.
     
  13. Chasint Senior Member

    English - England
    I don't think anyone has yet mentioned that 'less' is used with uncountable nouns and 'fewer' is used with countable nouns.

    Drink less water. :tick:
    Drink fewer water. :cross:

    Eat less apples. :cross:
    Eat fewer apples. :tick:
     
  14. jokaec Senior Member

    Chinese - Hong Kong
    "Go travelling" can be counted by times! For example, how many times have you been to Paris?
     
  15. Edinburgher Senior Member

    Scotland
    German/English bilingual
    Exactly! That's why you can't say "go travelling fewer and fewer", but must say "go travelling fewer and fewer times" (if you really want to use fewer).
    But "go travelling" can also be thought of as measurable rather than countable, and that is why "less and less" works (and works better than "fewer and fewer"). Even better would be to say "less and less often", where often modifies the going travelling, and provides the counting sense, while less and less only modifies often.
     
  16. jokaec Senior Member

    Chinese - Hong Kong
    Thank you Edinburgher. I like "less and less often"!
     

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