Monday, July 19, 2010

Grammar Rules: Amount vs Number, Fewer vs Less

Bad grammar can and often will get a manuscript rejected - even before the agent or editor actually notice the story. I'm going to be posting a whole ton of grammar type information - things we went over in my advanced business writing class - in the hopes that the review will be good for me, and useful to you. :-) Any material which did not originate from my own brain came from my teacher. (Ask if you'd like to know his/her name.)

Amount vs Number:
Use amount when talking about things that can't be counted or about money. Use number when talking about things that can be counted.

She received a higher amount of money.
The amount of water astounded her.
The amount of cells needed caused problems.
He earned a lower amount of interest.
The amount of dust in here disgusts me!
We had an unusual amount of perfect scores on this test.

The number of people that arrived depressed the host.
The number of jackets needed exceeded their expectations.
The number of girls at the dance didn't appeal to him.
The number of cds in the car needs to be boosted.

Fewer vs Less:
Use less to describe things that can't be counted or money. Use fewer to describe things that can be counted.

He has less interest.
There's less light in here.
She has less brain cells than others.
We have less happiness.
She has less money.
A little less pride would be helpful.

There are fewer people in this room.
They used fewer animals than anyone else.
This street has fewer houses.
I need fewer pens! (Is that even possible? I say no. Can't have too many pens. :-) It's impossible. :-))

Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!
International visitors: Canada is still winning, but the United Kingdom is catching up! Australia and Japan come in next, nearly tying for third (Australia is one ahead Japan.) I love seeing the dots pop up on my map! :-)


  1. very nice. i'll have to refer my students to your blog.

  2. Oh, that's great advice. I had never given that much thought, but that is good to know! (You're almost to 100 followers! Cool.)

  3. Teaching junior high grammar is probably the most boring part of my job--despite the efforts I make to treat it as both exciting and fascinating for the sake of my students--but I know it helps me in my own writing.

  4. Some of these are tricky to keep track of. It add to it when signs are wrong. "10 Items or Less" in supermarkets is wrong. It should be "10 Items or Fewer", right?

  5. Theresa,

    You're so right... the stores have it all wrong! No wonder the word "fewer" is so seldom used in our language.

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  7. I like this and have referred students to this page, but I would argue that your example "We had an unusual amount of high scores" should be "number of perfect scores." They can be counted.