I have a phrase: "The amount of junk is getting...". Should I end it with "smaller" or "less".

What is the general rule for using them?

1 Answer 1


The general rule for using 'small' is in reference to the size of something. So, for example

The pile of junk has gotten smaller

Less is used in cases where there is a lower amount of something that does not have defined quantities. You cannot accurately quantize 'junk'

There is less junk than before

You would use fewer if you had a way of quantizing the subject of discussion. For example:

There are fewer bags of junk than before

As a 'bag' is a discrete quantity.

In the case of your particular sentence however, neither fit very well. I would instead say

The amount of junk is decreasing

Or, perhaps

The pile/heap of junk is getting smaller

Or even

The bin/skip/room (full) of junk is getting emptier

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