SIGN UP

One Less Problem

Avatar Image
black_cat51 | 19:27 Fri 08th Aug 2014 | Phrases & Sayings
19 Answers
s it gramatically correct to say "one fewer problem" or "one fewer problems" or is it really "one less problem" which does sound right but doesn't follow what i know of the rules about less/fewer

Answers

1 to 19 of 19rss feed

Avatar Image
'Fewer' should normally be used in association with discreet variables and 'less' with continuous ones - but I think that you've found an exception to the rule, Blackie! ;-)
20:18 Fri 08th Aug 2014
Unless you put it in a full sentence we can't tell.
one problem less.
'Fewer' should normally be used in association with discreet variables and 'less' with continuous ones - but I think that you've found an exception to the rule, Blackie!
;-)
Question Author
well its not really a sentence. "i've got one less problem without you"
Well at least that puts it in context. I would use 'have' instead of 'got' but otherwise OK.
Question Author
thanks all
one problem less.
I have one less problem
I'm going to be picky, chris - discrete
Oliver Kamm aka The Pedant - who writes a column in The Telegraph and who seems to know a thing or two about grammar - says that less and fewer are both ok in this example, even though the "proper" rule is as Buenchico says.
One fewer problem. It is just one problem fewer not many problems. And it has been removed from a group of many problems. For sure it isn't less. You haven't made any single problem smaller.
Instead of 'one fewer problem', a better sequence would be to say 'one problem fewer', then there's no difficulty in getting it right.
Let's say you had six problems, but now the person being addressed has gone from your life and you have only five. That would give us, "Without you, I've got one problem fewer."
one less problem sounds ok
"My workplace is fewer than two miles from home, so it takes a taxi fewer than ten minutes to get me there and the driver charges fewer than four pounds." Would anyone say that? I suspect not, yet miles, minutes and pounds are all countable nouns.
OK, the above example is just a little mischievous, because all three quantities concerned are considered as elements in a sequence rather than a collection of individual items. The concept of a journey of two miles is not thought of in quite the same way as a bag with two apples in it.
Nevertheless, there simply are situations which demand the demotic/idiomatic ‘less' rather than the - supposedly - correct ‘fewer'. The latter became ‘correct' only in the 18th century in any case. Prior to that, many writers used ‘less' where purists (or pedants) now demand ‘fewer'.
As time passes, we'll see much more of ‘less' and much less of ‘fewer', you may count on it! As an old-timer, I still differentiate between them, but I don't complain about people who choose not to... or don't know that they ‘should'. Even English examiners have been known to produce the instruction: "Write a précis of this passage in 50 words or less", never mind the supermarkets with their till-signs saying: "Ten items or less"!
It must be remembered, however, that there is a considerable difference - in terms of meaning - between a teacher telling his class: a) "Write fewer funny compositions" as opposed to: b) "Write less funny compositions." The sentence at ‘a' would mean they'd been writing too many of these and should try to cut the quantity down and ‘b' would mean the pupils were welcome to go on writing them, but the compositions should not be quite as amusing!
IMO, "one less problem", sounds abominable. Grates on one's ear/mind.

And I can believe "My workplace is fewer than two miles from home, so it takes a taxi fewer than ten minutes to get me there and the driver charges fewer than four pounds.", would be said by some. Although many choose to use the wrong word when speaking. Same as they might use the word "you" rather than "one".
Question Author
lol thank you everyone for your consideration of this question - it actually arises from a song in the charts at the moment by Iggy Azalea, and of course, one problem fewer/one fewer problem wouldn't actually even scan (i think scan is what i mean - it wouldn't fit to the beats that the song has) However, someone rang into radio 1 (to the "nerd alert" slot) to say it would be "one fewer" given that she also mentions she's got one hundred problems in the song. However, if it is one fewer, is it problems or problem?
In the context of a pop song "one less problem without you", is of course perfectly acceptable i suppose!
It should be one fewer problems or as QM said, one problem fewer. If a had four cars and now I have only three, I'd not say I had one fewer car, I'd say one fewer cars.
"one less problem without you" sounds fine here, although I'm not sure about the "I got". It wouldn't scan very well as 'I have one fewer problem without you'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXb72U5HnMM
"Poetic licence" of a sort then. Lyricist's licence maybe ?
They seem allowed to break rules.

1 to 19 of 19rss feed

Do you know the answer?

One Less Problem

Answer Question >>