Fewer, used with plural nouns, refers to number. Less, used with singular nouns, refers to degree or amount. Both fewer and number end in er, which can help you remember which word to use. Part of the confusion results from the commonly seen sign in grocery stores: "ten items or less." It should read: "ten items or fewer."

• Less is used for quantities and degree.

• Fewer is used for numbers (countable units).

There were fewer applicants for the job. There was less completion.

You must make fewer mistakes in order to keep your job. I trust there will be less cause for complaint.

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