Why do Americans say “less than five people”?

I thought “people” is countable, so we should say “fewer than five people”? Being in the US for many years, I rarely hear people saying “fewer than,” even with countable nouns like “people.” I presume this usage is grammatically wrong, but idiomatic? Answer Some style guides presecribe “less” for uncountables and “fewer” for countables; however, … Read more

Countable and Uncountable Nouns in a List

Since “information” is an uncountable-noun and “references” is a countable noun, which sentence is correct? Please let me know if any additional information or references are needed. Please let me know if any additional information or references is needed. Answer Ibrahim, and welcome to ELU. First of all, you are right in your distinction between … Read more

Why do U.S. Americans say “a good value” (using indefinite article “a”)

Take this example from the Airbnb website: “What would have made this listing a better value?” This souds absolutely horrible and incorrect to my Australian ears (I would omit the “a”). I’ve also noticed this quite frequently watching Youtube videos with presenters from USA and Canada. In the only related question I found, respondees (presumably … Read more

Is “you have so many double standards” idiomatic and if not, why and what would be?

The noun double standard is countable. Looking at some ngram you can see the plural form used for titles (to mean something like the topic of…) or when there’s a number preceding it (i.e. referring to a list: the 49 double standards…). But the results don’t really show the plural in a sentence with a … Read more

Since ‘few’ is used for countable nouns and ‘less’ is for uncountable nouns

Since ‘few’ is used for countable things and ‘Less’ is for uncountable things then why do we say; I have less than 2 days/months/years. ? Yes, time is an uncountable concept but we sure can count days, years, and months… Answer The phrase two days as in “two days left” can refer to a block … Read more

Translation, rotation, scalation?

I’m programming a math library and it never ocurred to me before now that most mathematicians say “translation, rotation, scale” to refer to these transformations. Problems arise when I want to distinguish the verbs “translate, rotate, scale” from the countable nouns “translation, rotation, scale”. Is it wrong / strange to use “scalation” for the countable … Read more

Why is it correct to say “fewer calories” when calories are continuous?

This question, "Discrete Units of a Continuous Quantity", asks whether units of a continuous quantity should be spoken of as discrete or continuous. The top answer states The rule is simple, and you obviously know it: discrete quantities require the use of "fewer" and continuous quantities require the use of "less". Calorie, as a unit, … Read more

Question on “work” follows with a verb

I am writing to inquire the correctness of the following sentence: both work rely on this technique Or both work relies on this technique. While the first one seems more grammarly correct, I do see some usages of the second case. Could any shed some lights on this? Thanks. Answer It appears to be a … Read more

Nouns that can be both count and noncount nouns

I would like to ask how people who are familiar with English interpret these sentences regarding the nouns that can be both count and noncount nouns. (1) I have to make more cake/cakes to offer a wide variety of bakery products for my own business. (2) France is famously known for having more cheese/cheeses than … Read more