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Grammar lesson

Dear Editor:
I have an issue with your article in the Oct. 11 edition “Less Teens Admit to Drinking and Driving.” I don’t have a problem with the article itself. My issue is with the poor grammar used in the headline.
Unless grammar rules have changed, “less” is to be used when referring to the singular, even when the singular is made up of many (e.g., air, water, money, hair, sand, forest). “Fewer” is to be used when referring to the plural (e.g. air bubbles, water drops, dollar and cents, grains of sand, trees). In the case of your article, the correct wording should have been “Fewer teens admit to drinking and driving.”
More and more the media, in all its forms, use “less” incorrectly. I don’t know if it’s simple ignorance, lack of interest in accuracy or deliberate participation in the dumbing down of America. Even if their main purpose is not to educate, I would think those who bring information to the public, in whatever form, would be more responsible in how they present it.
As a side note, another common error is using “famous” when describing the negative. The correct use of “famous” is for describing the positive. Babe Ruth was famous. Taylor Swift is famous. “Infamous” or “notorious” are to be used when describing the negative. Dillinger was notorious, Bernie Madoff is infamous.
Maybe correct grammar usage seems like small potatoes compared to the economy, the fragile status of peace and healthcare concerns. But the grandeur of America, in all areas, is slipping in the eyes of the world. If we continue to ignore the few little weeds that pop up, eventually our garden is completely overrun.
These examples of poor grammar are just one more indication of the “weeds” that are consuming our great country. Is it a matter of declining education? Or do we just not care anymore? Either way, it makes me very sad.
Gwen Alin
Issaquah, Wash. (former Downey resident)

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Published: October 18, 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 27



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