Less vs Least

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What’s the difference between them?

Less

Meaning:

Having a smaller or lesser amount or degree; not as much.

Examples:

1. She has been working less now that she's retired.

2. I'm trying to drink less soda every day.

3. I have to study less for this test than I did for the last one.

Least

Meaning:

Least means the smallest amount or degree, the lowest in importance or rank, or the very bottom.

Examples:

1. We have the least amount of resources for this project.

2. Of all the options, this is the least desirable.

3. She is the least experienced person on the team.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference

Synonyms

Antonyms

Less

1. Diminish

2. Decrease

3. Subside

4. Reduce

5. Ebb away

1. More

2. Increase

3. Prosper

4. Abundant

5. Excess

Least

1. Minimum

2. Bare minimum

3. Narrowest

4. Least amount

5. Minimal

1. Most

2. Maximum

3. Greatest

4. Utmost

5. Highest

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Less", "Least".

1. If the sentence requires a comparison between different amounts, use 'less.'

2. If the sentence requires a comparison between the smallest amount, use 'least.'

3. When in doubt, try using the words 'not as much' in place of 'less' and 'very bottom' in place of 'least' and see if the sentence still makes sense.

Check the full list of commonly confused words in English

Learn the difference

Frequently asked questions

When should 'less' be used?

When describing a smaller or lesser amount or degree than something else, 'less' should be used. For example, if there are five apples and you take away two, the remaining amount would be 'less' than the original five apples.

When is the appropriate context for using 'least'?

'Least' should be used when describing the smallest amount or degree, the lowest in importance or rank, or the very bottom. For example, if you are comparing the prices of four items, the least expensive one would be the one that costs the least amount of money.

Do 'less' and 'least' share the same pronunciation?

No, the two words have different pronunciations. 'Less' is pronounced with a long 'e' sound, while 'least' is pronounced with a short 'ee' sound.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

A common mistake people make when using these words is confusing the two. It's important to remember that 'less' is used to describe something that is smaller or lesser in amount or degree, while 'least' is used to describe the smallest amount or degree, the lowest in importance or rank, or the very bottom.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. The _____ of two evils is often the better choice.

2. I have _____ patience for such nonsense than I used to.

3. It is often said that _____ is more when it comes to design.

4. His injury is much _____ severe than we initially thought.

5. You should drink _____ coffee if you want to sleep better at night.

6. The _____ known facts about this historical figure are just as interesting as the popular ones.

1. The lesser of two evils is often the better choice.

Explanation: The phrase the lesser of two evils is an idiomatic expression which means the less unpleasant of two poor choices. Therefore, lesser is correct.

2. I have less patience for such nonsense than I used to.

Explanation: When comparing quantities or amounts, less is used. In this case, were comparing the amount of patience, so less is the appropriate choice.

3. It is often said that less is more when it comes to design.

Explanation: The phrase less is more is a famous aphorism used to express that simplicity is preferable to complexity. The correct word here is less.

4. His injury is much less severe than we initially thought.

Explanation: Here, less is used to show degree or extent. The sentence is comparing the severity of the injury to what was initially thought.

5. You should drink less coffee if you want to sleep better at night.

Explanation: Less is used to refer to a reduced amount or quantity. In this case, its suggesting a reduction in the amount of coffee consumed.

6. The lesser known facts about this historical figure are just as interesting as the popular ones.

Explanation: Lesser is used to describe something that is smaller in size, amount, or importance than something else. In this case, it refers to facts that are not as widely known or recognized.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.