Countable &  Uncountable Nouns

Less or Fewer?

A common error when writing to use of the word “less” instead of “fewer”. For example:

There are less bottles of milk in the fridge than there are on the doorstep.

Should be:

There are fewer bottles of milk in the fridge than there are on the doorstep.

The word bottles is a countable noun. As the name suggests, countable nouns can be counted – no matter how many bottles there might be, their number can be counted. Conversely, uncountable nouns cannot be counted. Examples of uncountable nouns include clothing, experience, and food. Notice the subtle difference in the example below:

She had less clothing in her suitcase.

She had fewer items of clothing in her suitcase.

Click here for a list of uncountable nouns icon representing a list.

Much or Many?

A similar rule applies to the use of much and many. Many is used with countable nouns and much is used with uncountable nouns. Mixing much and many is a less common mistake although care should still be taken as the example below shows:

There were far too much people in the train.

Should be written as:

There were far too many people in the train.