Dear Justin Bieber,
Let’s get serious. Justin, you need to think about the SATs. Granted, you were very funny in that sketch with Tina Fey on SNL, and you have amassed a truly astounding number of Youtube subscribers. But despite what the Canadian government, your stylist, and your travel stylist might be telling you, famous people do go to college. Shaquille O’Neal. Bill Clinton. I’m sure there are many more.
I have to be honest here, Biebz. I’m only writing to you because my 14-year-old cousin emailed me the video of your song “One Less Lonely Girl,” with the subject line “My hero Justin Bieber needs to take your SAT class.” She loves your music, but she’s right. The lyrics in this song demonstrate that you are not prepared for the grammar section of the SAT. Let’s look at some lyrics:
And when you’re mine in the world
There’s gonna be one less lonely girl
All right, I know that you personally didn’t write this song (thanks Wikipedia!), but it’s still your reputation at stake. And unfortunately, the song is not doing you justice. Why? Keep reading.
The song is about “one less lonely girl.” I understand from the context of the song that, once you unite with a certain female, you will reduce the number of lonely girls in the world by one. For example, if there were 100 lonely girls in the world before you made your move, there would be only 99 afterward. In other words, there would be fewer lonely girls in the world.
The word “less” can only refer to uncountable quantities. Meanwhile, the word “fewer” refers to countable quantities. Examples:
|Uncountable Quantity||Countable Quantity|
|I have less pizza than Justin Bieber.||I have fewer slices of pizza.|
|I have less hair than Justin Bieber.||I have fewer strands of hair.|
|I have less popular music than Justin Bieber.||I have fewer hit songs.|
|I have less of a following than Justin Bieber.||I have fewer Twitter followers.|
I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: “This is a grammatical technicality. Who cares?” But unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The lyric actually makes you look bad, Justin. I’m not doing this grammatical analysis to be a jerk; I’m doing it for your image.
Since “less” cannot be an adjective that describes the countable noun “girls,” it therefore must be an adverb that describes the uncountable adjective “lonely.” Your grammatically savvy fans will be out there thinking that you cannot stop a girl from feeling lonely; they will think that you can only reduce a girl’s feelings of loneliness by some unspecified degree. In essence, you can only make a girl less lonely.
So, Justin, I would like you to enroll in the Knewton SAT prep course right away. I’ll pay for it myself. I am sure you are an extremely busy guy, but the course is entirely online, so you can attend classes and take practice tests whenever and from wherever you want. And when your new single, “Bieber Grammar,” goes triple platinum, I’ll only ask for a small percentage of future royalties.
Celebrity SAT Teacher