Differences between
LESS and FEWER



Differences between LESS and FEWER :



Comparatives which have lost their force

Latin Comparatives :

interior, exterior, ulterior, major & minor

These are now never followed by TO but are used as if they were Adjectives in the Positive Degree.

1. A fact of minor importance….
2. He had an ulterior purpose in doing this.
3. The interior parts of a building….

SOME can be used as nouns.

1. He is a minor (a person under age).
2. He is a major (in the military rank).
3. The interior of the house was beautifully decorated.


English Comparatives :

former, latter, elder, hinder, inner, outer, upper, nether.

These are now never followed by THAN.

1. The former and the latter…
2. The inner meaning….

3. The outer surface….
4. The upper and the nether mill-stones….

The words elder and elders can also be used as nouns to denote some person or persons of dignified rank or age.

1. The village elders….
2. The elders of the church…

The following Adjectives are not compared at all, since they represent the highest degree.

Unique, extreme, chief, complete, perfect, ideal, universal & entire

We never say - most unique, chiefest, extremest, etc….

1. The driver stood at the extremest edge of the rock. (Incorrect)
2. The driver stood at the extreme edge of the rock. (Correct)

3. He is the chiefest offender in this case. (Incorrect)
4. He is the chief offender in this case. (Correct)

But we still say…

1. This is the most perfect painting I have ever seen. (Correct)

2. He wrote the most complete account of the siege in existence. (Correct)

3. He wrote the completest account of the siege in existence. (Correct)

In such cases the comparative and superlative indicate approach towards the absolute.

A fuller account will appear in our next issue. (Correct) We could not have had a more perfect day for the garden party. (Correct)


Distinctions of Meaning

The student should note the differences between…

(a) elder and older
(b) eldest and oldest
(c) farther and further
(d) later and latter
(e) nearest and next
(f) less and fewer

1. He is my elder brother.
2. He is older than his sister.
3. My eldest son died at the age of twelve.
4. He is the oldest of my surviving sons.

Elder and eldest are applied only to persons. They are now confined to members of the same family. Here eldest means first-born. Elder is not followed by THAN.

Older and oldest are applied to things as well as to persons and denote the age.

1. That is the oldest tree in the grove.


FARTHER & FURTHER

1. Varanasi is farther from Calcutta than Patna is.
2. The further end of the room….
3. A further reason exists.

The word FARTHER (comparative of FAR) denotes a greater distance between two points. The word FURTHER (comparative of FORE) denotes something additional or something more in advance.


LATER & LATEST

1. This is the latest news.
2. This is the last boy in the class.

The words LATER and LATEST denote time.
The words LATTER and LAST denote position.


NEAREST & NEXT
1. This street is the nearest to my house.
2. This house is next to mine.

The word NEAREST denotes space or distance.

1. This street is at a shorter distance from my house than any other street.

2. Your house is nearest to mine.

But NEXT denotes order or position.

1. No other house stands between this house and mine.
2. Your house is next to mine.


LESS & FEWER

3. No fewer than forty boys failed in a class of sixty.
4. They do not sell less than ten pounds of sugar.

The word LESS generally denotes quantity. The word FEWER denotes number.

But we can say…No less than forty boys failed…when we are thinking not of individual boys but of the number as a mathematical quantity. The difference between two numbers is expressed by saying that one is less than the other.

We want a few more workers and a few less administrators.

A number that is less by a few than the present number


THIS & THESE and THAT & THOSE

The plural of THIS is THESE and of THAT is THOSE.

Mistakes are often made by using these and those with Singular Nouns KIND and SORT.

1. I am very fond of these kind of flowers. (Incorrect)
2. I am very fond of these kinds of flowers. (Correct)

3. We never associate with those sort of people. (Incorrect)
4. We never associate with those sorts of people. (Correct)

It is still better to write…

1. Flowers of this kind…
2. People of that sort…


ONE OF

Remember that if an Adjective follows this phrase, it is usually in the Superlative Degree.

1. London is one of the biggest cities in the world.
2. He is one of the most intelligent boys I know.

But it is correct to say…

He is one of the younger members of the staff.

Do not say OUR MUTUAL FRIEND though even Dickens used it. The correct expression is OUR COMMON FRIEND.

The word MUTUAL describes reciprocity between persons.

1. They formed a mutual admiration society.
2. Our liking was mutual.

A distinction used to be drawn between Verbal and Oral.

The word VERBAL properly means of words and concerned with words.

The word ORAL means not written and by word of mouth. Nowadays, however, verbal, in the sense of by word of mouth has come to be accepted by usage.

1. An oral examination…
2. A verbal message…

1. He failed in both oral and written tests.
2. There are only a few verbal differences between the two statements.



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