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Category Archives: Quick Grammar Tips

Fewer vs. Less

Fewer is used with quantities

The rocket ship had fewer than 13 monkeys on it)

There are fewer than 1.5 conscientious calculators in the room. (Hey, there’s that “than!”)

Do not say: the rocket ship had less than 13 monkeys.

Let’s move onto less.

Less is used as an ambiguous comparison. 

Ralph was less handsome than Hanson.

I was less than inclined to engage with Hanson because he was an unscrupulous fellow.

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Effect vs. Affect

Since this is a grammar bite (don’t worry- only 13 calories and 50mg of brilliance) I’ll try to be as succinct as possible.

Effect describes a few different things:

An output from an input (spending too much time around people had the effect of making Hamlet hallucinate).

The power of influence (her hysterical screaming had no effect on the interviewer).

The effect of the pumpkin falling through the sky was devastating to the town of Little Hancock.

Her effect on him was powerful- he couldn’t stop staring at her Uggs paired with shorts and wondered what in the world?!

Affect follows an effect: it describes how something was impacted by the “effect” in question, produces a change

Jeremiah was severely affected by the noxious gas emitted from the oven.

I knew that slapping the palm tree would not affect it in the slightest, so I proceeded to burn it with a flamethrower.

Hopefully this bit helps. I’m not here to give you the full lowdown on the rules of it to build a foundation- rather, I wish to enhance your current foundation.

Cheers!

It’s vs. Its

Its: possessive

My hair is always a mess. Its tendrils perpetually fly everywhere mad-scientist style

It’s: a contraction

It’s a beautiful day. It isn’t raining mongooses (can be split into “it is”)

It’s been a rough day (can be split into “it has”)

Then vs Than

Do not fear the use of then or than. 

Than: used as a comparison.

My wombat is bigger than yours.

My wombat is more aggressive than yours.

Is your wombat scarier than mine?

My wombat will eat your wombat faster than you can think about the ferocity of its teeth

Then: a moment in time, in addition to, therefore, afterward

I was a scarier Frankenstein then (“then” replaces “at that time”)

I went to the concert and then drank with Conner Oberst (“then” can be replaced by “afterwards” or “proceeded to”)

If you wish to argue with me effectively, then you are going to have to make a better case for your wombat (“then you are going” can be replaced by “you need to”)

I ate the turtle soup, then the muskrat bread (“then” can be replaced by “as well as”

In a nutshell: use “than” in comparisons and “then” for pretty much everything else.