4

More specifically, can someone analyze grammar of and recommend which of the following is correct:

One WTF less

vs.

One WTF fewer

If it matters, the intention was to imply that if one instance or class of user's incredulity over unexpected system behaviour is removed, then I have done my job.

  • 3
    Setting that aside, people don't actually say "one fewer X": "one less X" is the idiomatic expression – sumelic Jan 16 '18 at 4:18
  • My intuition suggests "WTF" is a count noun but I'll do some digging. – Azor Ahai Jan 16 '18 at 5:04
  • 9
    You're seriously overthinking this ... if the register/tone of the communication makes it OK to use the acronym WTF at all (without even quote marks, or italics), nobody GAF about the grammar. ;) – ArchContrarian Jan 18 '18 at 5:57
  • I think there's only one World Taekwondo Federation. – Hot Licks Jan 22 '18 at 15:31
  • ArchContrarian: linguists do. All language has grammar. – reinierpost Jan 23 '18 at 6:49
7
+50

I would argue that WTF is singular and countable, as it's s noun describing a part of speech, like a sentence or a greeting. It would be perfectly correct to say:

In his rant, there were four sh*ts and seven WTFs.

Therefore, "WTF" can be taken as countable:

Dylan's rant had three fewer WTFs than Amelia's.

  • 1
    It could also be a response to an action, if you see someone do something and ask, "WTF?" – htm11h Jan 18 '18 at 22:12
  • I was about to upvote Arch… when I realised WTF itself is irrelevant. In the context of the examples, what would change if any other phrase or word replaced WTF, please? With that caveat, how could Will not be correct? – Robbie Goodwin Jan 20 '18 at 13:27
3

WTF is a countable noun and its plural is written WTFs. The adjective 'fewer' is better than the adverb 'less' - but the misuse of 'less' has become so common these days that it is almost acceptable in informal writing or speech.

1

I would say this is a matter of which style or register is to be used. As in, should it be formal and grammatically acceptable (fewer) or informal and perhaps somewhat neglectful of the English grammar (less) ?

Of course, strictly speaking, the GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT option is 'fewer', as explained in the other comments. However, since 'WTF' is a word/phrase used always colloquially and never in formal contexts, then we could probably take some liberties with grammar, as is very often done in conversational English.

Because, to me, 'one WTF fewer' sounds a bit inconsistent. We're sort of mixing formal with informal. 'One WTF less', though, is more likely to be heard from a native speaker, seeing as, here, 'WTF' and 'less' are both informal and seem to fit in better with one another.

But, once again, if we take into account the rules of grammar, then 'WTF' is to be treated as a count noun. But I just feel like there should be some kind of stylistic consistency in a sentence like this.

1

Arrived a bit late here, but like others said before me, WTF is a colloquial slang, abbreviation for "What the f*ck?"

It is definitely used as a countable, many hits on a cursory Google search. Or take for instance this T-shirt here, once on sale at amazon.com:

Experiencing Life At Several Wtfs Per Minute

Since it refers to a countable thing, you could easily say one more WTF or two WTFs less a minute.

A parallel example is OMG, BTW, which can used just the same way and probably most of these colloquial acronyms.

As to the point of "one WTF less" versus "one WTF fewer" there is quote some usage data in The Free Dictionary, to quote but one:

usage: Many usage guides say that fewer should be used before plural nouns specifying individuals or distinguishable units: fewer words; no fewer than 31 of the 50 states. Less, the guides maintain, should modify only singular mass nouns (less sugar; less money) and singular abstract nouns (less doubt; less power). ... Standard English practice does not consistently reflect these distinctions. The use of less or less than where usage guides recommend fewer (than) is common in most varieties of English: less than eight million people; no less than 31 of the 50 states; We did more work with less people. Though these uses are often criticized, they appear to be increasing in frequency.

So it is not even that it is colloquial or slang. Standard English practice is using less more loosely.

That is, you are correct in using both forms, WTF...

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