the difference between fewer and less

The Quick Answer
Use less when referring to a single item.
Use fewer when referring to more than one item.

Using Fewer and Less

Writers often misuse the words less and fewer. The word less should be used for a single item (e.g., less time). Fewer should be used when there is more than one item (e.g., fewer mice).

Examples:
  • There is less cheese on this plate.
  • cheese – singular)
  • There are fewer pieces of cheese on this plate.
  • (pieces – plural)
  • There are less pigeons in Trafalgar Square than there used to be.
  • In the future, there will be less coins in circulation.
  • Fewer people will vote in the forthcoming elections.  

Together we're using less bags
(should be fewer bags)


Less napkins. More plants.
(should be fewer napkins)


...fewer carrier bags

See Also

Are collective nouns singular or plural? Singular or plural verbs after prepositional phrases (e.g. a box of tapes)