Language Tips

Get expert tips on language, grammar, style and vocabulary

Less or Fewer | Grammar Tips

2 min read
29 January 2021
two students talking together

We can have more money, more problems, more friends, and more cake, but what about when we don’t have more? Do we have less, or fewer? How do you know when to use the words correctly?

When you're first learning English, it's important to brush up on the specific rules for synonyms such as this. Take a look at the rules for how to use less and fewer.



Less is used for non-countable nouns such as information, water or salt. By using less, we can talk about how much there is of something.

  • Many of us should probably eat less salt.
  • I drink less coffee than everybody else I know.



When we are talking about countable nouns, like dogs, books or candles, we use fewer. By using fewer, we can talk about how many there are of something.

  • There are fewer candles on my son’s birthday cake than on mine.
  • I buy fewer paperbacks now that I own an e-reader.


How good is your English?

Take our free test today and discover what your English level really is! 



If only it were that simple, we would all have less confusion and fewer problems when talking about quantities and amounts. When we talk about measurements of time, distance, weight and money, we use less rather than fewer:

  • It is less than six hours until my essay is due.
  • I live less than fifty miles from London

The final exception comes when we talk about one countable item on its own, for which we use less instead of fewer:

  • If I had eaten one less cake yesterday I would have one less reason to feel guilty.
  • If you remember these exceptions, you’ll have one less thing to worry about.


  • Grammar

    Advance your grammar skills with our simple tips 

  • English

    Secure a deeper understanding of the English language

  • Vocabulary

    Broaden your English, French, and German vocabulary 

  • Academic skills

    Upgrade your essays and exam ability with our Academic tips 

Share this article