Less is not more…

…Nor does “less” mean the same as “fewer.”

Saith our honored headline writer at AZ Family News:

Despite storms, less tax dollars spent on potholes

Lordie! Where do people learn to write like that? Leaving aside the ambiguity created by the passive voice (the dollars have a checkbook, maybe, allowing them to spend on potholes?), consider:

“Less” is for things that cohere, or that we perceive in general. It means “a smaller quantity” of stuff that we think of in the aggregate, as it were.

Less sugar
Less water
Less time
Less canine company
Less computer trouble
Less money

“Fewer” is for things that can be counted. It means a “smaller number” of things that we think of as a collection of individual things.

Fewer grains of sugar
Fewer gallons of water
Fewer hours, fewer minutes, fewer seconds
Fewer dogs
Fewer computer crashes
Fewer dollars

Less stuff. Fewer things. See?  It’s not that hard. Really. 😀