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June 12, 2007

Colonial Living Standards

In news from the colonies the leading newsheet of New Amsterdam reports:

In 1900, Americans spent nearly twice as much on funerals as on medicine, and less than 2 percent of Americans took vacations.

Would that the Viscount Palmerston were still with us, a gunboat or two in the Hudson would remind the editors of the distinction between fewer and less.

June 12, 2007 in Reactionary News Network | Permalink

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Comments

You mean how "less" is used for things measured in real numbers, like percentages?

Posted by: Marcin Tustin | Jun 12, 2007 2:33:29 PM

Do you mean to say that I got a pay rise of fewer than 5% last year....?

I'm all in favour of the sign at the checkout saying "10 items or fewer", but I think you're on a loser with this one...

Posted by: steve holmes | Jun 12, 2007 8:46:36 PM

At the express checkout, it's "10 or less or furor."

Posted by: geneberman | Jun 12, 2007 11:17:25 PM

No, Tim's right. A pay rise is an item, whereas Americans are individuals. So fewer than 2% of Americans, less than a 2% pay rise, and even less than ten weeks to go, as long as the ten weeks is an item, rather than individual weeks.

Well so says this

http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutgrammar/lessfewer

Posted by: Matthew | Jun 13, 2007 12:49:20 AM

Of course he's right; confusion of "less" and "fewer" should be a crime meriting a firing squad. Only kidding. (A bit - "amount" and number" is another word crime demanding 9mm headaches all round).

But now we've sorted that, do you think we could persuade him that he means fluorescent, not flourescent, when discussing lighting? :-))

Posted by: Mark | Jun 13, 2007 9:28:51 AM

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