Less vs. Least

'Less' and 'least' are used a lot in English so it is important to know their differences. Click here for detail.

What Are Their Main Differences?

'Less' refers to a small amount, while 'least' refers to the smallest amount or number.

Differences

Singular or plural Nouns?

  • 'Less': is followed by a singular uncountable noun.

They waste less money than they did before.

  • 'Least': is followed by singular uncountable and plural countable nouns.

One of the least points was mine.

He has the least information of anybody else in this room.

What They Refer to

  • 'Less': refers to a small amount or degree.
  • 'Least': refers to the smallest amount or degree.

Grammatical Functions

Besides their mutual grammatical functions 'less' can be a preposition or an adverb as well.

  • 'Less': as an adverb means not so much.

She would cry less if her dog were still alive.

  • 'Less': as a preposition means to take away.

My friend paid back his debt less 20 $.

Similarities

Grammatical Functions

  • 'Less' and 'least' can have different functions:

As a determiner
As a pronoun

I drink less juice than I did before. →determiner

Here, in this example 'less' is used as a 'determiner' since there is a noun after it.

Less is used to produce paper money. →pronoun

The least functions of new mobile phones are to zoom in digitally 10 times more and to capture more lights. →determiner

I have done nearly everything; the least is left undone. →pronoun

Less and Least as Quantifiers

Both 'less' and 'least' can be used as quantifiers before different classes of words.

Please control yourself and be less worried; he will be back soon.

Here in this example 'less' is a quantifier that is followed by an adjective (worried).

My uncle is the least interesting person ever.

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