Friday, April 3, 2009

It's More or Less the Same Thing (Except Not)

I hear it from time to time, and it always bothers me. Sometimes I say something, but it doesn't always warrant a correction. I don't always know if people are unaware of the grammatical distinction or if they just don't care enough to use the correct word. But then I was watching TNT (Law & Order, obviously) and I heard their new slogan for their movies on TV: "More Movie. Less Commercials."

Ohhh my goodness. It's not that difficult, people. LESS is used when an item is not quantifiable. If it's impossible to count the number of something, it's not quantifiable. FEWER is used when an item is quantifiable - when you can count how many of the item you have. If Jane has three cats and Johnny only has one, then Johnny has fewer cats than Jane. Jane can't have three times though, so if Johnny has to be there in five minutes, but Jane has to be there in 15, Johnny has less time than Jane.

Now like I said, I don't always correct people, because usually it's not really a big thing. But TNT is a cable television station, not a person. Millions of people watch cable, and having a slogan like this justifies everyday use of improper English. Don't they have a single staff-person who might've caught that error? Is the opinion of marketing professionals that Americans are too stupid to notice or that they just won't care? Regardless, they're wrong, and it really bothers me that their mistake gets broadcast nationally.

Whether there are 3 commercials or 70 in between each 15 minute segment of Catch Me If You Can, it should be "More Movie. Fewer Commercials."