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less pronunciación (used as the comparative of little)
adjective
1 denoting a smaller size, quantity, duration, etc drank less wine than you .
2 colloq fewer in number smoke less cigarettes . See note.
adverb not so much; to a smaller extent exercises less nowadays .
pronoun a smaller amount or number tried to eat less .
preposition without; minus £100 less the discount .
[Anglo-Saxon læssa ]
less than colloq not very The boss is less than happy with the sales figures .
less than no time jocular a very short time indeed.
much less used to link alternatives so that the extent of one's disapproval, surprise, etc is emphasized didn't even cut the grass, much less do the weeding .
no less usually ironic tagged on after a statement to express admiration, surprise, etc a compliment from the director, no less .
nothing less than as much as; tantamount to amounts to nothing less than a swindle .

less, fewer Less is a grammatically complex word with several part-of-speech functions, as the entry shows. Its use overlaps with fewer when it qualifies plural nouns, especially in conversation: ?They admitted this measure will lead to less prosecutions. Strictly, fewer is more correct in this case. The reason less is used here instead of fewer is that the total amount predominates in the mind over the plurality implied by the strict grammar of the noun. This is especially true || when measurements (including time and distance) and words like dozen , hundred , etc, are used, || when less is to be identified with a singular or indivisible subject, || and when the construction is less than: ? There were less than twelve hours before the big day. ? A baby girl less than two years old. ? Less than twenty of them made it back to England. ? People who are 65 years of age or less. ? The murders were committed less than three weeks ago. ? They were sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for not less than three years. In all these cases, fewer would be unidiomatic or even ungrammatical, and not typical of current English. Recommendation: it is legitimate to use less instead of fewer when the sense requires it; use fewer with straightforward plurals.



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