Less people or fewer people?

Hi I recently have had a discussion with a friend of mine. He insists that it is correct to say less people and I hear this often. However, I remember my teacher told me that it has to be fewer people because people is countable. He says I have to use less before uncountable nouns and fewer before countable nouns. But my friend is a native speaker and a well educated one too. So, maybe less people is now also acceptable in modern English?

Hi englishfan,

Life is difficult, isn’t it. You are quite right. The rule is fewer with countable and less with uncountable but again more and more you hear less with countable nouns. They are both in the comparative form ie little/less few/fewer. Although in informal English less is now used as in your quotation less people. The funny thing is that no one would use them in the positive form in that way. For example if you said: Little people showed interest in the festival, instead of: Few people showed interest in the festival, you would be regarded as strange.