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I used to fuss about less and fewer. I applauded M&S (was it them?) when they introduced a ‘10 items or fewer’ lane at checkouts to cater for those of us who deplored ’10 items or less’.

But I’m weakening. The other day I was listening to Elvis singing ‘Amazing Grace’, and then the next day I heard it again, beautifully sung by Sol3 Mio (listen to them on YouTube if you don’t know them), and of course it contains the lines

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.”

If John Newton can say less instead of fewer, and produce one of the greatest hymns ever written, then who am I to carp? I know that less fits the metre and fewer doesn’t. But I no longer think it matters so much.

But you may disagree …

The unanswerable question is whether it matters to your reader, and if it does whether that puts your reader off reading you any more.   And if that happens whether it matters to you.

Patron saint of pedants: St James the Fewer (tweet yesterday from Ian Power (@IHPower))

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