This is a really common gaffe.

"There are less people reading this tutorial today than there were yesterday".

"There are fewer people reading this tutorial today than there were yesterday".

This is short and sweet: the word fewer is almost always used when the thing you're talking about can be counted. "I have fewer M&Ms than you" and "I have less porridge than you". M&M's can be counted, porridge can't.

However, Where collective units of measurement are being spoken of, we might have an exception! "I was doing less than 90 miles per hour", "This checkout is for baskets containing 10 items or less"

I watch a TV programme called Pointless every day. Sad, but true. The aim of the game is to score as few points as possible, a perversion of all the game show rules we know and love. The presenter's spiel goes something like "we gave 100 people 100 seconds to name as many XXXXs as they could. The person with the fewest points at the end of the round goes through to the head to head". So far, so good. At the end of the round, the presenter looks at the scoreboard and announces that "Nigel has scored less than Mavis, and therefore will go through etc. etc." Nigel has indeed scored less; he has fewer points. Get it?

By the way, you'll notice I used two "etc"s at the end of the sentence above. You only need one. "Etc." is a Latin expression that means "and other things", or "and so forth." So, why did I use two?

It's an Internet thing. Hopefully, when reading the sentence, you'll have heard my voice tailing off in a bored manner. It's a trick to get over the fact that you can't see or hear me. In the same way, you only ever need one exclamation mark at the end of a sentence, if ever. Often people will use more to highten the reader's understanding of the writers mood. LOL!!!!! Again, never do this in formal writing.

More tomorrow...

Tasks 0/2 completed
1. Watch television and shout at it when somebody gets this wrong
2. Drink a bottle of single malt whisky.


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christine2 Premium
I will leave now, because I am constantly picking up grammar and spelling mistakes in others, as well as on the news, in newspapers, in books, on the radio...
Not that mine is perfect, but I must have had VERY GOOD TEACHERS as I was painfully and deliberately acquiring English as my second language...I would never have had the guts to put anything up as training but I find it hilarious and can only commend you, Paul.I feel like I have found a soul mate griping about the same thing. I hope you have given a tutorial on my pet hate: the misuse of the words to lay and to lie. My patients always tell me they were laying down...their life, perhaps? And working in Ashton-under - Lyne near Manchester one of my patients proceeded to tell me: "I were just eating me tea, when..."
Coming from South Africa I never thought that i would need an interpreter for English, but there I did!
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Paul Dean Premium
In Manchester (as elsewhere in England) people will happily admit to being "sat in front of the telly". I never occurs to them that by the same grammatical rules they should "get up and go for a walked". People seem particularly poor at tenses.

When ever I hear the word "sat" on telly I shout the word "sitting!" My wife just sighs.

I'll try to do "me" and "I" tomorrow, along with the correction to "me and him went out".
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mrbill74 Premium
I'm forever correcting my girlfriend's comments, and it's reached the point where I simply brace myself after doing so--I KNOW she's going to smack me! These comments here remind me of a grammar course I enjoyed while still at AT&T. By the end of class, we came to three resolute conclusions:

1) It's not 'Lay Lady Lay', it's 'Lie Lady Lie';
2) It's not 'Lay Down, Sally', it's 'Lie Down, Sally'; and
3) It's not 'I Feel Good!', but 'I Feel Well'.

I may not have used the proper punctuation above, but this discussion is about grammar, right? :-)
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speedking Premium
Hi Christine, good to hear from a fellow South African and great to meat up with you at WA ! I'm very new to all of this, but having a lot of fun doing it .Paul reminds me of one of my English teachers way back when in 'lekka" ol' SA.........keep up the good work Paul , there's always something new to learn.
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RandyKR Premium
You should try to don' t lett it buggya so much.
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teacup Premium
Another one that bothers me is the misuse of the words I and me. Please clarify for those who obviously don't know any better.
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mamalama Premium
As a home-school mom, I deal with grammar issues pretty regularly but I didn't have the guts to create grammar lessons for the WA community. This is a great service to many. Thanks a lot!
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jespinola Premium
Interesting.. I will check my grammar :)
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techhound Premium
Hey Paul, great lesson. How about "Yore" being added to the last section? LOL.

Best Regards,
Jim
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Paul Dean Premium
I'll do "yore" when I do "y'all". (No I won't).
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techhound Premium
LOL. Nice!
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