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FULL TRANSCRIPT of EPISODE 3 by Daniel Goodson

Episode 3 - Less and Fewer

[00:00:00] Do you know what we are gonna do today? Law idioms. Is this the part where I realize that I know less idioms than you do. Yeah.

You're listening to Correct My English podcast. Here's your host [00:00:20] Zdenek.

Hello, how is everybody doing? Welcome back to Correct my English, a podcast where I correct your English. How is everyone? I'm okay, I'm fantastic, to be honest, but there is one little thing that kind of saddens me and that's the fact that I [00:00:40] don't have that much feedback regarding the previous episode.

Although the general sentiment is that it was a decent one. The sound was better. The dialogue with my expert was fun. So, you know, it's up to you really to help me grow this podcast. I can't do it alone and I don't have that [00:01:00] many listeners yet. I've got about 60 downloads. For each of these two first episodes.

So, you know, it's still kind of at its start. So we have to keep this growing somehow. Please do share with your friends, like, subscribe, do all the usual [00:01:20] stuff because if this is going nowhere, then I might as well make a decision, you know, to stop doing this. I'm not trying to blackmail you by the way or anything, but I just want to emphasize the fact that you've got the power to make this work.

Okay. But [00:01:40] of course, if you think this podcast is not worthy of your attention, then don't bother, you know, like let's be reasonable here, shall we? Okay. You can send me a review or an email to I'd like to hear from all of you, of course. If you do send [00:02:00] it, I might even read it out here in Correct my English podcast. So let's proceed to this week's extract. It comes from my other podcast, which is called Zdenek's English podcast. And it's a live show, which happens by the way, every Sunday at 9:00 PM [00:02:20] Central European time. So my last week's live show featured my friend Mark, who has a really interesting background.

He actually was born in Russia. However, he has been living in the UK since he was about 10 years old. So you can imagine his English is very, very [00:02:40] good. To be honest, I do envy him, his native like accent. It's brilliant. You can't really tell that he's from Russia. He doesn't have any traces of his mother tongue accent whatsoever.

Okay. So in this particular extract we were trying to, or I was trying, rather, to [00:03:00] introduce the topic of the show, we were supposed to do some idioms in it as well. Now, listen to this and see if you notice a questionable thing towards the end of this extract.

Mark: It's the first time on the live stream on [00:03:20] your live stream. Yeah, and on the podcast, but I've been streaming a little bit on Twitch with my phone. Okay. So, he's a seasoned guest, guys. He's a presenter. So you can't expect any slips, any blunders or, or clingers. I’m expecting them for sure.

I wanted to say [00:03:40] clangers, actually, to drop a clanger. Clinger or clanger, clanger to drop a clanger. I think it is. I have never heard that expression before in my life, so, okay. That means to basically make a mistake. Okay. To put your foot in it or just sort of make a blunder or something to drop a clanger, but I'll check it later just to be sure.

Okay. Anyway, [00:04:00] Mark, do you know what we are gonna do today? Law idioms? Is this the part I realize that I know less idioms than you there.

All right. So what is this about? Well, this is about, fewer and less. [00:04:20] To be honest, you should really see fewer idioms, not less Mark. And that's because idiom, an idiom is a countable noun. So one idiom, two idioms and few idioms. Not, not little idioms. Yeah and the comparative of few is fewer.

[00:04:40] Less is used for uncountable nouns. Anyway, this is slightly controversial, though. And that's because, well, this is something that native speakers do. It’s a kind of a mistake that native speakers often make, and they are aware of it. Sometimes they aren't and it becomes part of [00:05:00] the language. It becomes natural.

I know I might be opening a can of worms here. Because if this is a mistake that native speakers make, well, you might argue that it's not wrong to say it in this kind of way then, is it? And Mark is not a native speaker, but to be, to be frank. I'm pretty sure [00:05:20] that most of his friends who are English say it in the same way.

And that's because, like I said, this is one of those mistakes that native speakers make. Well, you know, this is questionable. It's up for a debate. There are basically two schools of thought and they even have their names, would you believe [00:05:40] that? Yes, that's correct. One school of thought is called prescriptive grammar. And this is a school of thought that stresses that you should use grammar that is prescribed and that's, that, that has clear, straightforward rules that are described in [00:06:00] clever books, right? That's prescriptive grammar. However, there's also something we can, we can call descriptive grammar and that's grammar that is used in reality.

That's grammar that is used by native speakers and often prescriptive grammar is not exactly the same as the descriptive grammar. So for example, here, the [00:06:20] prescriptive grammar would be fewer. However, most native speakers would say less, even though it's technically incorrect, less idioms would be used in informal English, in colloquial English.

It's part of slang and often people who speak like that, they take it as part of their identity. To [00:06:40] differentiate themselves a little bit from the norm. And it's absolutely fine, of course, but to be honest, if you're doing an entrance exam, if there is a task where you have to do multiple choice, for instance, and, well, if you go for less, you will end up making a mistake.

So that's why I am clarifying [00:07:00] this here. Less means a smaller amount, it's used with uncountable nouns, whereas fewer means a smaller number and it's used with countable nouns. Countable nouns are the nouns that we can count. You know, we can say one, two, three, like one mobile phone, two mobile phones, three mobile phones.

And then you can say, well, [00:07:20] you've got three mobile phones, but I've got fewer mobile phones. I only have two. Yeah. You see what I mean there? And so it's the comparative form of little and few, basically. Little and few are quantifiers, little words that are used to talk about quantity. If you ask the question how much, then you use [00:07:40] quantifiers to quantify the amount, right?

So it's a classic mistake and you can hear this all the time. People say less people are in the streets and things like that. But to be honest, you wouldn't hear this from a presenter on BBC or LBC. You just wouldn't, unless he said it in some sort [00:08:00] of a humorous way, you know, like as a joke or something or imitating somebody of, let's say a lower class origin or something like that.

Right! Let me give you some more examples from my personal life. Let's do that. I opened my wallet today and to my horror, to [00:08:20] my utter disbelief, there was less money there than last week. I must’ve spent it on some junk. Oh, I do remember now. I bought myself some food because there was less and less food in my fridge and I had no choice, pretty much.

I [00:08:40] was also kind of running out of my beer. I have to say there were definitely fewer cans that I could hope for. And I like when I have enough beer cans in my fridge, of course. You see without beer, I have less patience. And when I record podcasts, the quality is worse and [00:09:00] ultimately fewer people end up listening to it.

That's a lie, by the way. I don't really drink that much and I don't need to drink to record the next thing, which podcast. To be honest, I prefer not drinking at all because then I would probably say a lot of nonsense. [00:09:20] Okay. So, you know, I just did this to give you a few examples. I'm pretty sure you're happy with the number of examples I gave you.

Hopefully it was not too many. If you prefer fewer examples. Well then. I'm sorry. Okay. That's all I can say. Now we have [00:09:40] less time to finish this now than expected so let's just call our experts straight away. This time it’s my Irish friend, Kay and let's hear a few more examples in a short dialogue that we recorded for you.

Alright, let's go.

[00:10:00] Hi Kay! Long time no speak. How are you? Hi. Yeah, I'm good. How are you? I'm all right. I'm all right. We are on lockdown here, I suppose it's the same for you, isn't it? Yeah. I mean, forever locked down. So, you know, a lot less freedom. I have [00:10:20] to say that it's totally different from anything I did before.

Yeah. If I compare myself with myself one year ago, I have to say that I've got way more time for everything, but I also have less money. Really? I find the opposite. I think that I have, [00:10:40] I think I probably have more money now because I have less opportunity to spend it. Okay. Cool. Cool, cool.

Well, I definitely have fewer opportunities to see people and to socialize because nobody is really up for it these days. I still, I still have the [00:11:00] same number of friends I would say. It's not like my friends have disappeared, but you know, there are fewer people who are up for going out really. Yeah, I agree.

But at the same time, I think I have more emails now and more ZOOM conversations and Skype conversations, but.. [00:11:20] Yeah, definitely fewer face to face interactions. Yeah? Yeah. Cool. Well, it's been nice talking to you Kay. Thanks very much for being an expert of this particular episode and that's it. Yeah. Yes. [00:11:40] Stay safe. Cheers.

Bye. Bye. Bye.

Yeah, that's it. That was my expert Kay. Hopefully you heard all these examples and I think one of them was even questionable, whether you should say less or fewer. Again, this [00:12:00] is because Kate is a native speaker. She is from Ireland and, you know, in Ireland, they learn English as if it was their first language, even if Irish is their first language sometimes.

So here you go. That's, that's that for this episode of Correct My English, hopefully it was [00:12:20] fun. Hopefully it was useful for you and educational and all that kind of thing. And hopefully it was also shorter than usual because I'm pretty sure that a lot of you have less time on your hands than me. So you actually do appreciate a shorter podcast.

Please help me [00:12:40] out with promoting this podcast by sharing it with your friends, telling your teachers and colleagues and boyfriend, girlfriend, and family members and so on. Thank you very much for listening and until next time, bye. Thanks for listening to Correct My English [00:13:00] podcast. For more information, go to, or join Correct my English Facebook group.