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Writing Mistakes that Make You Look Dumb

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Less vs. Fewer

A salesperson’s skills are not on par with yours. How would you describe that: “He has less skill than I” or “He has fewer skills than I do”? You could use both! Less describes something that is not finite, like a trait. In the first case, “skill” does not refer to any particular skill, it denotes skill like “talent” or “intelligence.”

Fewer describes finite, listable items. In the second case, you have a larger skill set than the other salesperson. You could list those skills that you have and the ones he doesn’t.

Too often, people over- and mis-use “less.” They’ll say something like, “He has less skills than I do.” Say that and you’ve shown you have less intelligence and fewer brains than your competitors.

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