Two years of fewer? What do you think





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Discus: SAT/ACT Tests and Test Preparation: October 2003 Archive: Two years of fewer? What do you think
By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Thursday, October 23, 2003 - 01:53 pm: Edit

What do you think about the following sentence?

If you lived in the United States two years or fewer?

Is it correct or should it say ... years or less?

Oh, in the same vein, which one is correct:

A. Fewer than 33%
B. Less than 33%

By Me1 (Me1) on Thursday, October 23, 2003 - 02:03 pm: Edit

According to dictionary.com

"The traditional rule holds that fewer should be used for things that can be counted (fewer than four players), while less should be used with mass terms for things of measurable extent (less paper; less than a gallon of paint). However, less is used in some constructions where fewer would occur if the traditional rule were being followed. Less than can be used before a plural noun that denotes a measure of time, amount, or distance: less than three weeks; less than $400; less than 50 miles. Less is sometimes used with plural nouns in the expressions no less than (as in No less than 30 of his colleagues signed the letter) and or less (as in Give your reasons in 25 words or less)."

**Less than can be used before a plural noun that denotes a measure of time, amount, or distance: less than three weeks; less than $400; less than 50 miles.**

^^I believe either is technically correct in this case. I guess fewer is traditionary correct, but less is more commonly used?

By Massdad (Massdad) on Thursday, October 23, 2003 - 02:07 pm: Edit

This one is easy.

Few, or fewer, refers to things you can count, or cardinal references.

Less refers to things you cannot count, usually things measured on a continuum.

Example:

How long have you lived in Texas? Less than two years?

How many years have you lived in Texas? Fewer than two?

Regarding percentages, in light of the above, B would usually be correct, but I'm sure there's a bizarre context where A applies.

These examples are good, since they are reminders of the differing language we use with ordinal values compared to cardinal values.

By Rubenizm (Rubenizm) on Thursday, October 23, 2003 - 05:10 pm: Edit

it's talking about years, therefore i think it is fewer. It's asking for time like in the example above, but for years, two years of fewer. But both would be acceptable because it would be like: "two years or fewer [years]" that same sentence can be asked "two years or less [than the time of two years]"

In the percentage case it can be both depending on what you're talking about.

How much of that bottle is filled, 33% or less?
How many of the marbles are blue, 33% or fewer?


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