Items that can be measured are properly described by “less;” items that can be counted by “fewer.” This concept can be a little tricky, as in the following sentences:
- There is less flour in this canister than in that one.
- There are fewer cups of flour in this canister than in that one.
In recent years, advertising has done its best to blur this distinction, using “less” to describe everything, such as “less calories.” It has carried over into into other places, particularly stores that seem to describe their express lanes as being for “10 items or less.” That is, except for the United Grocery Stores in Amarillo, TX. (It could well be all of their stores, but I don’t have evidence.) Here is the picture to prove it:
It takes so little to thrill me these days!