As far as I know, countable nouns are used with 'few' and 'fewer,' whereas uncountable ones go with 'little' and 'less.' However, I encountered these examples:

Reduced saving means less funds for capital accumulation.

...the board also understands that if we charge banks more, they have less funds to lend.

Of course there were many that used 'few', too:

...there will be fewer funds available to buy bonds and other assets here.

When bear markets wreak their periodic havoc, even fewer funds remain moneymakers.

My idea is that as 'fund' is a countable noun, it should always be few/fewer. Why this doesn't work with the first two examples?

Source 1, 2.

  • 1
    Personally I'd say "less funding". Funds are specific reserves of cash, e.g. "The funds have been transferred." Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 10:53
  • 2
    Funds can be uncountable in the sense 'financial resources', or countable in the sense 'sums of money allocated to a specific purpose'. Your fourth sentence certainly uses it in the latter sense, and presumably so does the third. Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 11:00
  • I was also taught at some point that "fewer" goes with countable nouns and "less" with uncountable. This rule is however routinely broken by native speakers. Where a seemingly countable noun has an uncountable feel to it (as "funds" has in this case), expect chaos.
    – cruthers
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


'Funds' can mean two different things. A reserve of money set aside for a specific purpose can be 'a fund' (eg "we receive money from a charitable fund"). But money collected together to support something can be referred to as 'funds' (eg "we are low on funds").

The issue of 'fewer or less' comes down to whether or not something is countable or not. 'Fewer' is reserved for things that can be counted, whereas 'less' is historically for things measured by volume but, rightly or wrongly, is often used for both these days. Some people are dogmatic that either one or the other is correct, but the only thing you can say for certain is not to use 'fewer' with volumes.

So - if the 'funds' referred to were multiple sources of money then you could use 'fewer', ie "there are fewer charitable funds these days", but that isn't the case with your examples. However, I have to say that 'less' doesn't sound quite right, either. 'Funds' as a plural noun is something of a peculiarity (and, according to Cambridge, chiefly US English, which I didn't know - I have certainly heard it used in the UK). Even though it is plural, it still means "an amount of money", the same as its singular counterpart.

Consider this - we would say "less money", but we would not say "less monies". 'Monies' is a term that means amounts of money collected together, and that pretty much is the same as 'funds'.

The idiomatic way to refer to reduced funds would be "lower funds".

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