Posted by: Jack Henry | July 18, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Amount vs. Number

The words amount and number can be used as nouns or verbs. Today, we’re going to discuss how to use them appropriately when they are nouns and refer to “the quantity of something.” Let’s roll.

You should use the word amount for things you cannot count individually (like damage, salt, or interest). We call these mass nouns. Some examples will help. Look at how amount is used in these sentences:

  • It is hard to know the amount of damage the injury has done to his shoulder.
  • What’s the correct amount of salt for this recipe?
  • The amount of interest due each period depends on the loan balance and the number of days in the period.

That last example is a two-for-one: it uses both amount and number. You cannot count the interest individually, but you can count the days.

On the other hand, you should use number for things you can count individually (like dogs, friends, and questions). We call these count nouns. Look at how number is used in these sentences:

  • When you go to the park, count the number of dogs Tinker plays with.
  • Tim is always trying to increase the number of friends he has on Facebook®.
  • Could you believe the number of questions Jenna asked during the meeting?

The most common mistake people make is to use amount when they should use number. Here are some real-life examples of sentences that incorrectly use amount:

  • Episys offers an unlimited amount of Tracking records per member account.

  • There are no limits to the amount of checking accounts one member can have.

If those two sentences sound wrong to you, now you know why. Do you want to test your skills? Take this test from the English Test Store website. Enjoy your day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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