Back to Third Grade

| February 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

Let’s start with math. In particular, what does “less than” mean? The symbol used in mathematical formulas is: <, as in 3<7 (three is less than seven). Don’t confuse it with it’s sister sign, “greater than”, which points the other direction, like this: >, (7>3 — seven is greater than three).

Note: Did you notice that the bigger side, the open side of the symbol, is always facing the bigger number.  Like it’s an arrow pointing from the bigger to the smaller number.This is ALWAYS true with these two symbols.

But what does “less than” actually mean? I personally believe this to be both obvious and easy to understand, but I am also convinced that many people don’t have a clue. So here we go with a couple of examples.

If Mary has eight apples and Billy has ten apples, Billy has more apples than Mary, therefore Mary has less apples than Billy.

Or… Lets say you make around $25,000 a year while your boss is paid $190,000 plus bonuses. You are paid less than your boss.

“Less than” is both a comparative of two measurable things and an assessment of which of the two is the smaller. It therefore means exactly what it says, “to not have as much of” or “to not be as large as” something else.

Okay, so we understand “less than”. Now lets start examining just the “less” portion of the phrase while applying the previously defined logic and switching over to an English lesson.

Less, like “less than”, means to-not-be-as-large-as whatever it is being compared too. Like, “There is less water in this glass than there is in that lake.” or “I have less spending money since Powerball went up to two dollars a ticket.”

Easy enough right.

There is one more important thing to understand about “less”. That is that if you have any of something (one or more) then you could have less of it (I know what you’re thinking, but I’m typing about REAL things, like trees, spinach, whiskey, and headaches, not money. That you can always have less than zero of, it’s called credit). For instance, if you have two hamburgers, you would have less hamburgers if you eat one or both of them. If you have one pineapple, you will have less pineapples if someone adds it to their Chiquita Banana replica hat. If you don’t have a relationship, you couldn’t have less relationships (see, it really can’t get worse).

There you go, now we all understand what less means and I only have one last thing to say about how it’s used.

The rule: When you are completely apathetic about a subject, the way to express this is to say:

I couldn’t care less.

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Category: Rules for Public Conduct

Phil Jackson

About the Author ()

Philip "Phil" Jackson has determined that the biggest problem in the world is stupidity. "Most people don't seem to have basic Common Sense, but if they have a list of rules to follow, I have found that they will do so willingly." So after years of experience living he has decided to help out the ignorant by compiling the missing life rules into an easy to read and understandable format.

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