Copy Tip: Fewer vs Less

Dear Copy Bitch: Should I use the word “fewer” or “less” in this sentence? Fitness industry statistics indicate that about 75% of health club members are interested in personal training, but fewer/less than 5% ever purchase it due to its perceived high cost.

–Todd, Boston

Answer: Use “fewer” with items that can be counted. Use “less” with general amounts. So, in your example, I’d use “fewer” since the statistic would be based on real numbers (i.e. things that can be counted).

More examples:

  1. The older I get, the fewer suitors I have.
  2. George doesn’t like kissing girls with stinky breath, so please make the dish with less garlic.

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