Fewer is used before a plural noun. Less is used before a singular (uncount) noun.

Yes:fewer people, fewer countries, less money, less time.
Yes: Fewer than one-fifth of the staff were involved, less than one-fifth of the cake was eaten.


  • He weighed less than 40kg (where fewer would sound silly). 
  • Fewer than half the people voted in favour(people only come in whole numbers). 
  • Less than 50 per cent of people voted in favour(because it could be 48.5 per cent, not just 48 or 49 per cent).


Do not use. Instead, use project, country, or programme.

first-hand (adjective)

Hyphen, e.g. first-hand knowledge.

first hand (adverb)

No hyphen, e.g. at first hand.

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

Spell out at first mention. Thereafter use abbreviation.

forever/for ever (adverb)

Not simply interchangeable. Forever means continually; for ever means for always.

If you can swap the word you want with for years, use for ever.

Yes: We’re forever discussing this.
Yes: We could discuss this for ever.

Forward slashes

No spaces either side i.e. either/or not either / or.


Best in words. Say half a million, two-thirds of people affected by leprosy, cases increased by one-fifth. 

Avoid ½, unless in a recipe.

fulfil, fulfils, fulfilled, fulfilling

In British English we use fulfil, fulfils, fulfilling, fulfilled (and fulfilment).

Do not use the American English double l in the present tense.

full stops (full points)

Insert a single space (not double) after a full stop: I’d like to. But I’m not sure I can.