Oh, to be at the grocery store with grammar jerks. Not only are they frowning at every handwritten sign to suss out split infinitives in the weekly sales, but they also refuse to use the express lane.
"Ten items or less," they sniff. "Incorrect. Should be 10 items or fewer. Let's get in the other line to protest."
You're pretty sure you heard that rule as well, so you hang your head in shame and follow your friend to the next line, behind the guy with 70 coupons and a checkbook.
Centuries ago it started to become accepted that less would be used for items that couldn't be counted ("I ate less food," "There should be less contempt for my greed") and that fewer applied to countable objects ("I ate fewer cakes," "There should be fewer mean looks from people about the cakes I did eat"). Unfortunately, this has less to do with an actual "rule" and more to do with the preference of an author, one Robert Baker, that became widely disseminated [source: Doyle].
So go ahead and jump lines again to get out of the store as fast as possible. Try to lose the rude friend while you're at it.