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Though there is some contention about the validity of the rule, standard practice is to use "fewer" for countable items and "less" for an uncountable quantity. On Area 51, the "questions" beta site metric has been changed to "questions per day", with the following description:

15 questions per day on average is a healthy beta, 5 questions or less per day is worrying. A healthy site generates lots of good content to make sure users keep coming back.

Using the commonly accepted rule, "5 questions or less" should be changed to "5 questions or fewer" as questions are a countable quantity.

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If you actually read the top answer to that question, there is not "some contention about the validity of the rule"; much rather, there is no such rule to begin with. It's just a style preference of one person who died 200 years ago. Nobody knows how it gained such momentum, but note how even after two centuries of being taught this asinine "rule", "five questions or less" is still something native speakers all over the world produce every single day. That's because it is absolutely, perfectly, undeniably grammatical. –  ЯegDwight Dec 25 '10 at 17:28
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@RegDwight I'm not arguing that it should be changed because it's ungrammatical, but because it seems ungrammatical. –  Kyle Cronin Dec 25 '10 at 19:34
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It doesn't seem ungrammatical to me, nor to the person who wrote it, nor to millions of native speakers out there who use "less" with countable nouns all the time without even noticing. Rather than prematurely bowing to prescriptivists (who constantly break their made-up rule, too), let us wait before they actually show up, and then point them to that question on EL&U. Frankly, I can't quite follow your reasoning. You have a native speaker writing X, you link to an SE question where actual linguists say that X is correct, and then you suggest that we change it anyway. That doesn't make sense. –  ЯegDwight Dec 26 '10 at 2:44
    
@RegDwight - wat u sayd –  tvanfosson Jan 3 '11 at 23:10
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As a linguist, this amuses me to no end. It seems that the less intuitive the prescriptive rule in terms of the people's grammar, the more frightened people are of it, and the more likely they are to hypercorrect it to avoid seeming ignorant. –  Kosmonaut Jan 4 '11 at 16:36

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Thanks for pointing this out...it's fixed now.

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This is quite disappointing, David, especially in light of all the pluralization bugs not being fixed, and even being made fun of. "5 questions or less" is perfectly grammatical, yet it gets re-worded as soon as one person says that it seems ungrammatical to him. On the other hand, "1 questions", "Added 1 characters", "Viewed 1 times", etc. actually are as ungrammatical as it gets, yet nobody can be bothered to fix that even after many people keep complaining over and over and over again. Frankly, I think we've got our priorities wrong on this. –  ЯegDwight Jan 4 '11 at 9:54
    
@RegDwight if you find any pluralization bugs in Area 51 or stackexchange.com I'd be happy to fix them. The other sites are outside of my control. –  David Fullerton Jan 4 '11 at 15:39
    
Thank you for the offer, David. I will gladly keep this in mind. Cheers. –  ЯegDwight Jan 4 '11 at 15:51

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