Listening to local media, one could conclude that there is a campaign underway to economize on words by replacing “few” and “fewer,” with “less,” regardless of it’s being used improperly. The real grinder is using “less” when describing items composed of individual things. Confused? Less should only be used when describing the volume of things generally measured as a whole, while “few” describes things which can be numbered.
Examples of this are: there is less water – fewer glasses of water; less population – fewer people, less money – fewer dollars. Makes one wish for fewer broadcasters to visit less damage on the language! Sorry Sports Guys, your team can’t score less goals than the other!
Another problem is in using the terms “well” and “good.” Just as “less” seems to have pushed “few” out of the way, so the word “well” is being trampled by “good”.
Among the greatest misuses is the response, “good” to the question “How are you doing?” or more likely “How yoo dooinn?” The right answer is “well” as in “I’m doing well” in terms of health (physical, situational or financial). If you are really “doing good” it means that you are doing things that are of benefit to other people. That one has come into such wide use though it’s probably irretrievable. So, are we good on that?
Quick snappers: It’s hard to keep straight, the singular and plural of the following: criterion (singular) and criteria (plural). The rule is the same for phenomenon (singular) and phenomena (plural).
No Such Word Dept: irregardless – just use “regardless.” If “renumeration” is used when you want the words, “pay cheque,” to sound fancier, you should use (hard to pronounce) “remuneration.” But when “renumeration” becomes tangled up in elections, the correct word for counting voters is “enumeration”.
BC Misplaces: I can’t count the number of times I hear people speak of New West Minister. It’s understandable though, as most people know what a “minister” is, while few know what a “minster” is – no it’s not a male spinster! According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word describes, “a large or important church, typically one of cathedral status.” The city across the Fraser River from Surrey, is named after “Westminster” in London, England. So even if it sounds strange, the word “minster” is the real deal, and when you say “New Westminster” you are absolutely correct.
Easy for You To Say: Sechelt: see-shelt, and Agassiz: agg- a-see (stress on first syllable for both), Ucluelet: you-clue-let (stress on second syllable).
Next week: Why use one word when I can use a whole sentence?