“Fewer” is traditionally used when comparing quantities of individually countable things or people—as for example, when we say “There are fewer shops downtown nowadays,” or “I eat fewer salads in the winter,” or “There were fewer people in the audience than I expected.” “Less” is traditionally used when comparing quantities of things that are considered uncountable, such as “flour,” “water,” “land,” “space,” and “convenience.” We say “You should use less water” or “This machine makes less noise than the old one.”
Many consider it an error to use “less” rather than “fewer” when referring to nouns that are countable. For example, some might criticize the use of “You bought less bananas this week” or “She has a lot less problems than I do.” However, the reality is that the word “less” is beginning to take over the function of “fewer,” and many people do not feel that there is anything wrong when one says “I worked less hours last week than this week.” Still, if you are writing in a formal style or want to sound traditionally “correct” in speaking, it’s probably best to stick with “fewer” if you are referring to countable nouns.
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