Monday, July 7, 2014

Grammar-Nazi Count-Down: Episode Eight - Fewer vs. Less

Raise your hand if you've heard of countable and uncountable  nouns.  

Countable nouns include anything you can count, like mice, bananas, hamburgers, space ships, and deep-sea divers.  Uncountable nouns include stuff you... you guessed it... can't count.  This would be things like milk, love, happiness, intensity, and sea water.  You need to use some kind of unit to count these uncountable things.  You can count glasses of milk, for example, or you can draw a lot of little love hearts to indicate how much you love rainbow-coloured kittens with eyes as big as picnic baskets.  


I LOOOOOVVVVEEEEE them!!


So what's your point, you ask?

The point is, when Nardvark says he has less milk than his buddy Nerdvark, it's ok, but when he complains about having less bananas, Nerdvark's toenails ache.  See, it's ok to use the word less with uncountable nouns, but with countable nouns, you (and Nardvark) have to use the word fewer.

So Nerdvark wrote a folk song for your listening pleasure.  It goes a little something like this:

...(ahem....)...
The Nerdvark composes folk music
praising grammar

We've got
Less milk, but fewer mice.
Less love, but fewer bananas!
Oh, less happiness, 'cause of fewer hamburgers!  Yeah!
We've got
Less intensity, and fewer space ships,
Less sea water, but fewer deep-sea divers!
Oh!
Less happiness, 'cause of fewer hamburgers!  
Less happiness, 'cause of fewer hamburgers!
Less happiness, 'cause of fewer haaaaam-burgerrrrrrs!
Ohhhhh, yeaaaaah!