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Can I use "less" in sentences like this:

1 Why do we have so less number of students for this class?

2 My song collection is very less.

"Small" sounds better in both examples, but I would like to know if using "less" in these sentences is correct?

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No. Incorrect syntax in both. 1) such a small number. 2) small – mplungjan Dec 29 '12 at 21:55
Not in these constructions, anyway. Both of these sentences are incorrect. *So less is an ungrammatical compound; it should be so little; likewise, *very less should be very small. – John Lawler Dec 29 '12 at 21:56
You possess a dictionary; why ask us whether its definition of less is correct? – TimLymington Dec 29 '12 at 23:14
With non-count nouns, so much less may be used (there was so much less snow this March), but not so less on its own. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 30 '12 at 0:15
It sets my StdAmEng native speaker's teeth on edge, but 'very less' is anecdotally the preferred way to say things like these examples in at least some variants of Indian English. (India the country, just to be 100% clear.) I'm told it's probably influence from Hindi. – zwol Dec 30 '12 at 6:10

No, it isn't. Less is the comparative of little, and least is the superlative. You can no more say My song collection is very less than you can say My song collection is very smaller.

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It isn't always the comparative of little. You can say "the peaches this year are littler than usual", but you can't say "the peaches this year are less than usual". – Peter Shor Jan 16 '14 at 15:24
Yes. Though note that there can be an implied comparison. Like, in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet's mother tells her that she should marry the wealthy Paris, because, "So shall you share all that he doth possess, By having him, making yourself no less." No less than what? That what she has now. Etc. – Jay Apr 22 at 14:00

Less, more, fewer are comparative adjectives/adberbs.

Am I allowed to say

I like eating durians because they are less pungent.

Why is there so much less (for non-discretely countables) snow today?

Why are there far fewer (for discretely countables) students today?

Yes, provided you have either an implied or prior situation for comparison.


Miriam: I love eating petai peas.

Aminah: I like eating durians because they are less pungent.

For the following two sentences, there are respective implied pre-existing situations available for comparison.

Why is there so much less snow today? (implied comparison with yesterday or the last snow storm)

Why are there far fewer students today? (implied comparison with yesterday or the last time the class was held)

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This would be more convincing if you used the OP's sentences as examples. – Mr Lister Dec 30 '12 at 10:51
@MrLister: But, as others have pointed out, the OP's examples are incorrect. (However, I could say "My music collection is much less eclectic than Barrie's," if that helps.) – J.R. Dec 30 '12 at 11:32

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