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Pedants' corner

Fewer or less

26 replies

mummychicken · 05/10/2010 20:17

First time posting in here and it is more scary that AIBU!!

I need to write "receive points".

is it less points or fewer points? Please don't have a go at me - at least I know there is a difference - I just don't know which is which!!

OP posts:
posey · 05/10/2010 20:20

The rule is, it is fewer if you can quantify it

eg, fewer sugar cubes
less sugar

SleepingLion · 05/10/2010 20:22

Fewer points. Don't be scared - we're lots of fun in here! (In our own weird way Grin)

posey · 05/10/2010 20:23

Pressed post to fast...

So as points is a quantifiable amount, you will have fewer points than your opponant.

HTH Smile

posey · 05/10/2010 20:24

And of course I know, I pressed post TOO fast Grin
I blame a sticky keyboard...

mummychicken · 05/10/2010 20:25

But I don't know what a past- particible so feel very inadequate! Grin

Thanks for the answer - All I could remember is that Tesco have 10 items or less (incorrect), and Waitrose have 10 items or fewer (correct) but I couldn't remember why!!

OP posts:
posey · 05/10/2010 20:29

They could have a checkout for people with less shopping, but not fewer shopping Grin
(though less than what is the problem!)
Am I talking complete gibberish?!

SweetestThing · 05/10/2010 20:34

No, you're making perfect sense to me :-D

mummychicken · 05/10/2010 20:42

Actually "fewer shopping " makes sense as in it sounds so wrong therefore it might be the way for me to remember it!

Okay - who can help me with the difference between affect and effect?

OP posts:
posey · 05/10/2010 20:55

Don't think I've got an easy way to explain this one.

Your mood will have an affect on your children, but by shouting at them you will effect a temper tantrum.

How does that sound? (and my example is from yesterday's experience!)

hugglymugly · 05/10/2010 20:56

It is better to be aware that there's a difference (even if you have to struggle to figure that out) than to be unaware of that difference. So don't worry too much, just come here and ask; most pedants are nice - really Grin.

There are some words that I have trouble with, so I've put in place some strategies. Mostly those kinds of strategies work for individuals. So, maybe you could think of:

feWer - number of Wotsits, bits of Lego, bottles of wine - things you can point to and count the number of. (How many.)

lesS - piles of Salt or Sand - measured in teaspoons or handfuls. (How much.)

Does that help?

HowToShoutSoHusbandsWillListen · 05/10/2010 20:58

Yep, fewer points. Posey explained it well. "Fewer cows, Less Milk"

Dead easy. Be warned however, that it is all too easy to get obsessed. Taught my friend this at Uni, she now says (15+ years later) that if her husband ever leaves her it will be because she has corrected him on this one time too many Grin

mummychicken · 05/10/2010 21:07

posey - still no idea!!

I HAVE finally learnt the diffrence between practise and practice .

OP posts:
winnybella · 05/10/2010 21:08

Not sure about it, Posey. I think you can say 'your mood will affect your children'- not will 'have an affect'. Also 'effect' is usually used as a noun ie 'effect was amazing', although it can be used as a verb as well.

mummychicken · 05/10/2010 21:13


That is making my head hurt winnybella

OP posts:
winnybella · 05/10/2010 21:20


Forgetting about exceptions you would usually use 'affect' as a verb- meaning 'to influence'. So 'Her husband's sulking affected her mood'.

"Effect- as a noun means 'result'- so 'Her husband's sulking had a strong effect on her mood".

Ok, not the best sentences, but hope that makes it a bit more clear.

TrillianAstra · 05/10/2010 21:22

Think of practice and practise like advice and advise.

I advise you to practise your violin. (verb)

My advice is to go to the doctor's practice. (noun)

winnybella · 05/10/2010 21:23

Or ' We painted the walls blue and the effect was stunning'.

"The blue walls affected her mood- they made her feel sad'

retiredgoth2 · 05/10/2010 21:28

I have always like the maxim 'you are effected by affection'.

I like it. A lot.

But it isn't really very helpful is it?


mummychicken · 05/10/2010 21:30

I'm going to print this page out - I actually understand the difference between

fewer and less
affect and effect
with the added bonus of a better explanation of practise and prcatise

Thank you all, and you are not at all scarey Grin


OP posts:
TrillianAstra · 05/10/2010 21:32

I;m not 100% sure everyone on this thread has got affect/effect correct.

GwennieF · 05/10/2010 21:32

The fact that other people care about fewer/less gives me a lovely warm feeling. My DH tells me I'm too picky and that it is 'the language evolving'.

Boils my blood that!

mummychicken · 05/10/2010 21:35

Please excuse random AND at end of last post.

retiregoth,not really! But thanks for the thought.

OP posts:
SleepingLion · 05/10/2010 21:40

affect - verb (to have an effect on) - I affected his mood with my pedantry


affect - verb (to pretend to have or feel) - I affected unconcern about the grammar mistakes

effect - noun (the result of an action) - the effect of her pedantry was frightening


effect - verb (to bring about) - to effect change, you will have to smack George Osborne round the head Grin

TrillianAstra · 05/10/2010 21:52

There's also a noun that is 'affect', but you are highly unlikely to come about it in everyday life.

mummychicken · 05/10/2010 21:56

So basically - there is no simple rule for affect and effect as they can both be verbs or nouns! Bloody great. Think I'll stick to using effect and hoping I'm right

OP posts:
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