Do we really need to go over this?
I have received suggestions from readers that I review the rule for “fewer” versus “less.” I confess, I dismissed these because the rule is clear and I assumed most people knew the difference. I am sorry to say I was wrong.
Last week I said I wouldn’t be taking Boniva or buying Honey Bunches of Oats for the same reason: my boycott of products whose commercials contain grammatical errors. Now I must add to the list MGD 64, the dieters’ version of Miller Genuine Draft. According to its current television commercial, MGD 64 has “less calories” than other reduced-calorie beers.
I am too tired to rant again so soon over the ad industry’s growing disregard for correct language. Instead, might I just ask, why not say “fewer calories?” I am tempted to believe it is less an oversight than it is a presumption that “fewer” flies over the heads of Miller’s target demographic. Please tell me I’m wrong.
Is it possible that advertising companies intentionally use poor grammar to appeal to a specific class of consumers? The ad gurus at Grey Poupon hit their high-brow target with their famous commercial years ago. Pardon me, but it seems Miller is deliberately going for a less sophisticated crowd with its overt illiteracy.
Everyone knows “less” refers to an amount of something, as in less beer. “Fewer” refers to a number of something, as in “fewer calories.”
Less snow, fewer snowflakes. Less hair, fewer strands. Yes, got it.
Now can we move on to something a little less obvious?
Postscript: Speaking of intentional poor grammar, am I the only one wondering why yesterday South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham phrased his question to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, “Where were you at on Christmas Day?” He knows better.