fewer (superlative fewest)
- comparative degree of ; a smaller number.
- 2001 September 27, Terrie E. Moffitt; Avshalom Caspi; Michael Rutter; Phil A. Silva, Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviour: Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 151:
- This hypothesis goes by many names, including group resistence, the threshold effect, and the gender paradox. Because the hypothesis holds such wide appeal, it is worth revisiting the logic behind it. The hypothesis is built on the factual observation that fewer females than males act antisocially.
- Fewer women wear hats these days.
- There are fewer tigers than there were a hundred years ago.
Some[*] regard the use of the determiner less with countable quantities to be incorrect, stating that less should indicate only a reduction in uncountable quantity, or in size or significance, leaving fewer to indicate a smaller numerical quantity. For example, we should say less sugar, but fewer people, not *less people. Such a rule also allows distinctions such as:
- Their troubles are fewer than ours, meaning "Their troubles are not so numerous as ours."
- Their troubles are less than ours, meaning "Their troubles are not so great as ours."
Nevertheless, less has been widely understood and commonly used as a synonym for fewer since it first appeared in Old English as læs.