One of my biggest grammatical pet peeves is the rampant misuse of "fewer" and "less." I am not an English teacher, but I had superior, picky junior high and high school teachers who instilled in my teenage brain basic rules of grammar. It seems that people avoid the word "fewer" at all cost. "10 Items or Less." "Less than 2,000 showed up for the show." "The team has less chances to win without the star quarterback." Yeah. I've seen/heard all of these over the past few days.
As I said, I'm not an English teacher, so I can't properly explain the difference to you (it's ingrained in me, so I just know when to use it - like "effect" and "affect"). It has to do with numbers - singles or bulk. One source explains it this way:
"Just remember that if the noun can be preceded by a number (one person, three dogs, six of us, nineteen problems), it should be modified with fewer."
A few years back the grocery store Publix in Atlanta changed those infamous "10 Items or Less" to "10 Items or Fewer." Yes! Thank you, Publix, for leading the grammatical way for the poor schlubs who don't know any better. Now, Public, watch and learn.
Thank you Keener, Sumner, Jacoway, Babcock, Moore, Johnson, Walker, and Smallwood. Yeah, we did a lot of eye-rolling over diagramming sentences and nit-picky red grammar marks on otherwise fabulous themes, but your outstanding teaching paid off for at least one (and I hope more) of your students.
And, yes, my blog has fewer posts of late, because I have less time. Hope to correct that soon.