- On February 2, 2021
Anthony Fauci—God bless him—was talking the other day about the new, stronger variant making its way around the world and how to stem its spread. Get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible was his message.
“The less people that get infected, the less chance you’re going to give this particular mutant a chance to become dominant,” he said.
If you stumbled over his sound bite (I did), there’s a reason or two.
For one, it’s clunky construction. But what I’d like to point out is that when you’re talking about people, something you can actually count, you use fewer, not less.
The eminent Dr. Fauci should have said, “If fewer people get infected, this particular mutant has less chance to become dominant.”
The general rule goes like this: When you’re referring to things you can count, you use fewer, and when you’re referring to things you can’t—like probability—you use less.
As with everything, there are exceptions (many). To find out what they are, read When to Use Fewer and When to Use Less.
And let’s all keep listening to Dr. Fauci.