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 Post subject: Less/fewer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:16 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 1286
Location: Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Since 1970, DEC has tested, on average, less than three lakes a year in the Adirondacks.<p>*Question: Ordinarily, you'd want "fewer" in this sort of construction. But in this case, the average is probably something like 2.6. And to me "fewer than three" suggests one or two, not 2.6. I'm going to rewrite the sentence, but I still wonder if anybody thinks "less" would be the right choice, even if it flouts the less/fewer rule. Is it possible that there is an exception for this circumstance?*


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 Post subject: Re: Less/fewer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:48 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 1:01 am
Posts: 356
Location: Everett, Wash.
"Less than three" doesn't pass the ear test.<p>Even if the number referred to is 2.6, when the lede uses an average number, the rule would still seem to apply. <p>But saying "less than 2.6" doesn't grate on my ears.


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 Post subject: Re: Less/fewer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 5:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 744
Location: HuskerLand
If it's an actual number, fewer is the answer. And fewer sounds right to my ears too.


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 Post subject: Re: Less/fewer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 6:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 2266
Location: New Jersey
Lakes are discrete objects, so "fewer" is correct.


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