The words \u2018less\u2019 and \u2018fewer\u2019 are both comparatives and often used to mean the same thing. However, there are grammatical rules determining which one should be used in certain contexts. Read on to learn more about when to use \u2018less\u2019 and when to use \u2018fewer\u2019.\nLess (Uncountable Quantities)\n\n\u2018Less\u2019 means \u2018a smaller amount of\u2019 and applies to uncountable quantities. It can be used as an adjective, as an adverb meaning \u2018to a smaller extent\u2019, and as a noun meaning 'a smaller amount or quantity'. Here are a few examples:\nAdjective: Sidney\u2019s new job means he has less time for his family.\nAdverb: This test was less difficult than the other one.\nNoun: He\u2019s lucky. People have been fired for less.\nWe use less as a comparative adjective when discussing uncountable nouns: i.e. something that can't be counted as individual units, such as a mass quantity of a substance (e.g. water, electricity or sand) or a concept (e.g. time, love or information).\nFewer (Countable Quantities)\n\n\u2018Fewer\u2019 is also used as a comparative adjective, but means \u2018a smaller number of\u2019 and applies to countable quantities. For example:\nThere are fewer than 2000 mountain pygmy possums left in Australia.\nFewer graduates than ever are securing jobs with decent wages.\nAs these examples show, 'fewer' is generally used with plural countable nouns: i.e. things that can be counted individually.\nThe Exception to the Rule\n\u2018Fewer\u2019 is generally used when discussing things which can be counted, while \u2018less\u2019 is used when discussing things that cannot be counted. However, \u2018less\u2019 is used when discussing quantities of time, distance, volume, money and weight. For example:\nHe travelled less than two miles before he came to a petrol station.\nYou owe me less than $10 so don\u2019t worry about paying me back.\nThis is because quantities like \u2018two miles\u2019 and \u2018ten dollars\u2019 are treated as one thing rather than a collection of several individual things, meaning that \u2018less\u2019 applies instead of \u2018fewer\u2019.\nLess or Fewer?\nWhile 'less' is often used for both countable and uncountable quantities in everyday speech, it's important to make the distinction in formal writing. Remember:\n\n \tUse \u2018less\u2019 when discussing a smaller amount of something;\n \tUse \u2018fewer\u2019 when discussing a smaller number of things.\n\nIf you would like to have a 500-word sample of your work proofread for free, simply upload your document to Proofed today!