Terms to watch out for

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few, fewer, less

The traditional rule is that fewer is used with nouns that can be counted

fewer people    fewer samples

Less is used with nouns that cannot be counted

less money    less oxygen


fish, fishes

Although often used interchangeably, in stricter biological usage, these 2 plural forms can have different meanings. Take care to maintain consistency:

  • fish: a group of fish of the same species
a school of fish [when all the fish are the same species]
  • fishes: several different species of fish
Sea fishes of South Australia [book title]

flammable, inflammable, nonflammable

flammable, inflammable: likely to burn easily. Flammable was introduced to avoid a false analogy between inflammable and words such as inactive, in which in means not. To avoid misinterpretation, always use flammable

nonflammable: not flammable

food allergy, food intolerance

food allergy (also called hypersensitivity): an abnormal response to a food that is triggered by the immune system

food intolerance: a response to food that is not associated with an immune response (even though the symptoms can resemble those of a food allergy) – for example, lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactose in milk properly and is different from lactose allergy

food intolerance

forecast, prediction, projection

a statement of the likelihood of a future event under particular conditions that are variable or uncertain (eg if that happens, then this will follow)

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