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ryanabt

PSA: Less & Fewer

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Due to Jay (of the Fifth Trooper) refusing to see reason and his rejection of all that is good in life (see the most recent Notorious Scoundrels podcast and his continued mispronunciation of melee), I decided to finally take a stand. 

All of the podcasts I enjoy (In no particular order: SWStabcast, Fifth Trooper, The Notorious Scoundrels, Critical X, THE Legion Academy, and the Legion Outriders) all analyze unit/weapon/model effectiveness to some degree. Ok, maybe not the Outriders. In any case, since they all do such analysis, I think it is helpful to make note of an important grammatical point that they All get wrong. When to use less & fewer. 

Less is used when discussing something immeasurable (ie less damage). 

Fewer is used when discussing something measurable (ie fewer points of damage or fewer damage icons). 

This becomes particularly important when discussing things like “hits,” “crits,” “blocks,” etc. In all these cases we should use the word fewer, not less. 

Please be aware of this so that I will be less frustrated while listening and have fewer times that make me sad. 

 

* please take this as intended...an attempt at humor and good grammar*

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Posted (edited)

It was futile before.

Half our words and turns of phrase were wrong once. Eventually the mispronouncers outnumbered everyone 10:1 and they became right.

That doesn't mean grammar etc. don't matter for things like job applications. But a language will make some permanent changes within a lifetime.

Edited by TauntaunScout

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3 hours ago, Caldias said:

I appreciate this!  Interesting, I have a graduate degree in English and didn't know this distinction.  Good to learn it.

Thanks. It isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but I think preserving more specific language over less is a good thing. And, for whatever reason, I can hear any number of other grammatical mistakes, but this one always alerts me. 

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13 hours ago, ExplosiveTooka said:

Less can be used to suggest approximate, or variation. You could say "on average, this attack will do one point seven damage fewer than"

Or you could say, 'this attack does 1.7 less damage than 

Very good point! It doesn’t negate the less/fewer differentiation, but specifies it more. Nevertheless, it still follows the rule of measurable/immeasurable. Average points of damage in the case of fewer and 1.7 damage in the case of less. Even with 1.7 before it, damage is still uncountable. 

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Posted (edited)

We literally had to add another definition to literally since it was being used to stress importance and not being used to actually mean 'exactly, without simile or metaphor'.   I had friends use it nearly every other sentence and attached it to clearly figurative concepts ('I could literally eat every thing i see')   So it still happens to this day that people will use words incorrectly to the point that we make changes.

Edited by Gridloc

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10 hours ago, ABXY said:

If something is immeasurable, how do you know there's less of it?... 

 

🤪

The OP wasn't precise enough. It's not about immeasurable--less refers to non-countable nouns, and not immeasurable. "Sand" and "milk" are both non-countable nouns.  So you'd say "I wish there was less sand in the sandbox" and not "I wish there was fewer sand" or "I use less milk in the recipe" and not "I use fewer milk." As a generalization liquids and powders are usually non-countable. Beer is kind of an exception because we might say "I drank three beers." But we're really saying three cans of beer (or bottles or glasses). 

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22 minutes ago, Djaskim609 said:

The OP wasn't precise enough. It's not about immeasurable--less refers to non-countable nouns, and not immeasurable. "Sand" and "milk" are both non-countable nouns.  So you'd say "I wish there was less sand in the sandbox" and not "I wish there was fewer sand" or "I use less milk in the recipe" and not "I use fewer milk."

Unless you say "I use three fewer cups of milk". Language. It's off the chain.

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2 hours ago, Djaskim609 said:

The OP wasn't precise enough. It's not about immeasurable--less refers to non-countable nouns, and not immeasurable. "Sand" and "milk" are both non-countable nouns.  So you'd say "I wish there was less sand in the sandbox" and not "I wish there was fewer sand" or "I use less milk in the recipe" and not "I use fewer milk." As a generalization liquids and powders are usually non-countable. Beer is kind of an exception because we might say "I drank three beers." But we're really saying three cans of beer (or bottles or glasses). 

You are correct. I was imprecise. Thanks for helping clarify. 

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14 hours ago, ryanabt said:

You are correct. I was imprecise. Thanks for helping clarify. 

No problem, and you weren't too imprecise, as "immeasurable" does work as an explanation. 

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