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Foolish answer

Posted by Henry on August 23, 2003

In Reply to: Less of posted by sphinx on August 23, 2003

: 'He is less of a fool than I thought he was.'
: and 'It might be less of a problem ethically'

: How to explain 'less of'?

: I've never seen this kind of grammatical rule.

It's a comparative. It means smaller in size or degree. You could also say 'It might not be such a big problem ethically' or 'It might be a smaller problem ethically.'
The first phrase has an added complication. You could also say 'He is not as big a fool as I thought he was.' However, in English you can have a bigger fool but not a smaller fool! Although grammatically correct, it would not be idiomatic to say 'He is a smaller fool than I thought he was.'