I am not a native English speaker but I usually feel comfortable speaking or writing in English. I also have a linguistic background. But this morning I finished a task, wiped it from my whiteboard, and said to myself "That's one thing less to worry about". This raised two questions in my brain that was still running on high-energy consumption:
- Is it "one thing less" or "one less thing"? My non-native gut tells me both are OK but is there a difference in meaning?
- Why is it "less"? "A thing" is countable; there can be two things. On my to-do list, I have removed one item and still have 5 items left. So now there are fewer items on my list, not less. So why does "one less thing" feel so much more natural than "one fewer thing"?
Now off for coffee.