misuse of these two words is far more common than it need be, even at the hands
of so-called professional journalists. The distinction is relatively
straightforward and the mix-up probably results from the fact that we tend to
use ‘less’ for more or less all situations.
should be used for quantities that cannot be counted. So, for example, concepts
and qualities generally can’t be counted and you would say (or write) ‘less
freedom’, ‘less love’, ‘less crime’ (when referring to the general activity
rather than to the individual criminal acts).
is used for all situations where the items or objects can be counted. So you
would write or say, ‘fewer privileges’, ‘fewer lovers’, ‘fewer murders’.
took less time than Jennifer expected to get rid of Jeffrey and suddenly she
had fewer lovers.’
was less concerned about Jennifer’s clothes than she was and he soon had her
body covered by fewer garments.’
about it like this: if it’s possible to have a few of them, use ‘fewer’.
if you can’t count individual items, use ‘less’.