When InkJoy turns to InkSorrow

InkJoy2I’ve been singing the praises of Paper Mate’s InkJoy gel pens for about a year now. I love to use brightly colored ink pens, and these gel pens have become the go-to pens I use for jotting down my daily list of tasks in my desk planner. The tasks are written in one color, and a check mark beside that task is written using another color. Some weeks I stick to two colors, and other weeks I’ll use a whole rainbow of colors. My favorites are currently Teal and Slate, but then this week I discovered the Berry color was missing from my collection and had to add it. So yes, I’m a fan of InkJoy pens. But I’m sorry to report that my InkJoy has turned to InkSorrow because Paper Mate had to go and put this label on my new pen: “For less smears.”

How, how, I ask you, does an august pen manufacturer like Paper Mate not know that it should be “fewer” smears? The simple rule is this: Use the adjective “fewer” for things you can count (such as my beloved InkJoy pens) and use the adjective “less” for things you can’t count (such as the smearability of gel ink). “Fewer smears” or “less smearability.”

Years ago, a friend commented that she appreciated Publix for having signage about its line reserved for shoppers with “15 items or fewer” since most store signs would have read “15 items or less.” I though she had a great point, and I smile and silently praise Publix whenever I visit and see their polished prose.

Every rule has its exceptions, however, and if you’d like to learn more about when to use “less” and “fewer,” I recommend you go here and here.

Meanwhile, I have removed the offending label on my new Berry-colored pen, and I’m happy to report that a state of InkJoy has returned once more. (But I do hope to see fewer such mistakes in the future, Paper Mate!)

2 thoughts on “When InkJoy turns to InkSorrow

  1. The misuse of “fewer” and “less” always bothers me too, especially when I know the writer should know the difference! Some might say we’re being fussy, but when fewer of us speak up about errors, writers will begin to take even less care to use words correctly.

    Oh heavens, I hope I didn’t mangle that sentence!

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