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GLORIO PATSY’S LETTER (The Mail, 11/18) regarding the near-universal confusion of “less” (for measure) and “fewer” (for numbers) reminded me how many times daily I wince when hearing or reading the mistake.
While I obviously have a lot of time on my hands, I still wouldn’t have written even when I came across such a perfect example a few pages later in “Loose Lips”: “Barry…won election by promising his supporters more government services, not less.” (That last part could be either “more government services, not fewer” or “more government service, not less.”)
Then, Bob Mondello had a close call last week with “No way can I explain that in less than three paragraphs.” To wince or not to wince? Well, maybe he just wanted to save space and so would argue that his story did not contain a number of paragraphs but rather an amount of paragraphs. Nevertheless, I would read with so much less apprehension if you all could endeavor to use the word “fewer” as often as possible. (Speaking of smaller words as an excuse, we could next tackle “myself went downtown,” as in “John and myself went downtown,” rather than “John and I went downtown.”)