Thank you for the great answers to this month's grammar gaffe! I love that you considered grammar and meaning. I absolutely agree that the list is confusing. And, based on what's visible, what happened to 2 nights a week? (Thank you, Beth and Kristie, for pointing that out!)
Here's the screenshot again as a refresher:
I feel I need to mention a caveat. The full Facebook survey actually shows more options; these are just the highlights. Still, as a list, it leaves a lot to be desired. In this case, it's possible that Facebook is relying on the fact that users are familiar with what the full surveys look like. For good user experience, it's always better to consider the person who is seeing the text for the first time... and not assume anything.
The reason I chose this as my grammar gaffe is the use of "less" in "Less than 2 nights a week." Why did I choose this among all the issues? Honestly? It's a pet peeve of mine. As far as I can tell, people use less and fewer incorrectly almost as often as correctly. I'm doing my small part to change that. (Thanks, Bryan, for pointing out this grammar issue on Facebook!)
What's the rule?
This one is actually pretty simple. If you are referring to items that you can count (cars, nights, pogo sticks), use fewer. If you are referring to items that you can't count (traffic, humidity), use less.
So, the correct text for the survey is "Fewer than 2 nights a week."
Here are some examples:
- There are fewer cars on the road today.
- There is less traffic today.
- There is less humidity in the air this afternoon.
- There are fewer pogo sticks for sale.
The example sentences are all comparisons, but we often drop out some of the details. There are fewer cars on the road today than there were yesterday. Sometimes it's important to include the details, but usually it's OK to omit them.
Your turn: What bugs you most about this survey? Is it the confusing options? The parallelism? Something else?