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Friday, January 27th, 2006

10 Items or Fewer

It’s one of those little annoying things to me that even I will admit is pretty inconsequential, but I hate seeing the supermarket checkout lanes marked “10 items or less.” Less is used to indicate a smaller amount when the quantity cannot be enumerated. When a number is given, as in the supermarket sign, the correct term is fewer. Apparently I’m not the only one going around complaining about the grammar error, because I am seeing more and more “10 items or fewer” signs.

So it’s disappointing to me to see today’s Brevity cartoon (this link won’t work until tomorrow, but then it will stay good for 30 days. The current day’s cartoon is always here. ) I know Guy and Rodd are just reflecting what most people see, which makes the impact of the visualization more immediate. I guess cultural satire is not the appropriate venue for a grammar crusade, but it would have been nice to see “fewer” in the cartoon.

And damn it, I wish they would enforce that rule!

P.S. I see that the Random House Word Maven agrees with me about the traditional usage, but doesn’t think it’s worth correcting. Am I elitist, or is she a slacker?

Posted by Greg in Family & Friends, Society

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 27th, 2006 at 07:13 PST and is filed under Family & Friends, Society. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “10 Items or Fewer”

  1. Ramblings » Blog Archive » Less vs. Fewer Revisited says:

    […] Less vs. Fewer Revisited A friend took pleasure in pointing out that I used a grammatical construct in my last post that I had criticized in the post immediately prior. At least he thinks I did. Clearly, he didn’t bother the read the supporting link that I posted: […]