of all I want to congratulate you on your wonderful section, which
has helped me a lot to improve my English.
Going straight to the point, what I need is some explanation about
when to use fewer and when to use less. Could you
also please explain to me when to use a little and little
and when to use a few and few?
is used with uncountable nouns, like money or work or
travel, and fewer is used with countable plural nouns,
like coins or jobs or trips. Less is the
comparative form of little and fewer is the comparative
form of few. Compare the following:
have less work now than I had this time last year.
There are simply fewer jobs around that I am suitable for.
I therefore have little money and few friends.
more common, way of saying less is not as much and
another, more common, way of saying fewer is not as many.
Similarly little would translate as not much and few
would translate as not many. Compare the following.
new car doesn't use as much petrol as my old one so it's
new car uses less petrol than my old one so it's more economical.
don't see as many Peugeot 405s on the road now as you used
see fewer Peugeot 405s on the road now than you used to.
don't have much need to use my car in town when public
transport is so good.
have to admit that there are few occasions when I walk
that all of these uses have negative implications. If we
want to be positive about something, we would use a little
or a little bit of or a few. Compare the following
can't go out in such weather, but I have a little bit
of food in the house so I shall be OK.
can't go out in such weather and I have little food
in the house so I'm quite worried.
few of my colleagues turned up for my presentation, so I was
of my colleagues turned up for my presentation, so I was quite
/ much - a lot of
that much and many are mostly used in negative
clauses and in questions. They are not so common in affirmative
clauses where we tend to use a lot of, lots of, plenty of
or, very colloquially, loads of instead. Compare the following:
my stamp collection, I've got a lot of / lots of / plenty of
Asian stamps, but I don't have very many African
stamps. Do you have many African stamps in yours?
wasn't much traffic on the road in the snow, not
very many cars and very few lorries, but, even so,
there was a lot of bad driving.
got loads of Simpsons videos, but not so many
/ fewest - most
also that least is the superlative form of little / not
much and fewest is the superlative form of few / not
many. Most is the superlative form of much, many
and a lot of. Compare the following:
always seems to do the least work in this office and Andy
clearly does the most. I do quite a lot, but I have
fewer duties than Andy. Geraldine tends to make the
fewest mistakes in the work she does while Kevin makes the
least - at least
also expressions with the least ( = the minimum) and
at least ( = as a minimum requirement as well as not
worked such long hours today - the least I can do is to
drive you back home.
completed at least fifty pages of her new novel this week
know you're not well enough to eat anything, but at (the very)
least try to drink this.
you would like more practice more please visit our Message
Board in the You, Meand Us part of our