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  • andy
    Participant
    18 June, 2010 at 11:10
    • Total posts: 4

    I’d like to ask for your advice on the following sentence, which appears in a grammar exercise designed for Taiwanese test taker of GEPT (General English Proficiency Test).

    We will get together tomorrow ___ 10 years after we graduated from the university.
    (A) fewer than
    (B) longer than
    (C) sooner than
    (D) less than

    The answer key gives (D) as correct answer, but I was wondering if this usage is really common. Another question is the on the difference between "fewer" and "less". As far as I know we use fewer for countable nouns and less for uncountable, but I’ve also seen quite a few exceptions like less people and less than 10 years, as in this case. Personally I see grammar from a more descriptive, rather than prescriptive, perspective, but anyhow I’d like to hear opinions from everyone here. Thanks a lot.

    dan
    Moderator
    29 June, 2010 at 10:35
    • Total posts: 770

    Reply To: a usage about "less than"

    You’re right that "less" is normally used with uncountable nouns and "fewer" with countable nouns. However, when we’re talking about periods of time, it is more common to use "less".

    So in your example…

    We will get together tomorrow ___ 10 years after we graduated from the university.

    …"less than" is correct – we are not thinking about 10 individual years, but 10 years as a whole.

    Hope that helps.

    Dan

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