Mighty Red Pen

April 24, 2009

When less is not more

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Pop culture,Word wars — mighty red pen @ 6:59 pm
Tags: ,

Rhymes with Orange


Here’s a little trip through the mind of MRP. I get the joke, but I’m not sure I agree. At first, my thought was that “Do more with less” by itself is correct and not the same as “Do more with less people,” as implied here. That would be “Do more with fewer people.” But now I’m wondering if you could (more correctly) say “Do more with fewer,” even though that sounds odd. What do folks think?

Hat tip to Rhymes with Orange and the Grammarphile.



  1. Methinks more people should get a life 😉

    Comment by Granny — April 24, 2009 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  2. I’m not sure the principal was referring to less people; perhaps he meant ‘less resource’ or ‘less support’.

    ‘Do more with less’ is a set phrase, anyway, which is why ‘do less with fewer’ just sounds odd.

    Right, off to get a life now!

    Comment by JD (The Engine Room) — April 26, 2009 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  3. See, that’s what I thought at first, JD, because as you say “Do more with less” is an actual expression. So that’s what made me think that the joke actually doesn’t work because the principal is NOT saying “do more with less people” he’s just plain saying “do more with less.”

    @Granny — Right! Off I go!

    Comment by mighty red pen — April 26, 2009 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  4. As JD said, “Do more with less” is a set phrase. It has general connotations rather than specific countable ones. The cartoon inserts “people” for no good reason, unless it was to make room for an ironic punchline on hypercorrection.

    Either way, there’s a fair argument for the acceptability of “less people”: here’s Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage on the fewer-less conundrum.

    Comment by Stan — May 3, 2009 @ 7:09 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: