In a class I was teaching, one of my students made the sentence:
“I am going to play less video games.”
My co-teacher stepped in and corrected him, saying it should be:
“I am going to play fewer video games.”
Then I stepped in and and said his original sentence was fine because he was referring to the amount of time he was playing (uncountable) rather than the number of different titles he was playing. I did my best to do this is such a way that my co-teacher didn’t lose face, but afterwards I started thinking on this a bit more and got me thinking along grammatical lines.
So, here’s the question:
[quote]Is “going to play less video games”
A: proper grammar
B: idiomatic but correct, or
C: not strictly grammatical but still common enough[/quote]
We’re dealing with an issue with the function of the word “less”. Sometimes it is functioning as an adjective and sometimes it is functioning as an adverb.
In the sentence “eat less food” it is clearly functioning as an adjective modifying food. Contrast it with “eat food less”, where it is functioning as an adverb modifying eat.
But in “play less video games” the word is in the position of the adjective and you would think it should be “play video games less”. My feeling is that the “play less video games” is equally correct, but an idiomatic syntax.
I’d like some feedback on this to help clear things up for me.