The Amount or Number of Something? (Difference: Amount vs. Number)


Mistake: A large amount of people gathered on the street.

What is wrong? The quantifier amount should be used with an uncountable noun. For countable nouns, use the quantifier “number”.

Correct: A large number of people gathered on the street.

Examples: ‘Amount’ with Uncountable Nouns

  • The amount of stress can be unbearable.
  • No amount of money can make you happy.
  • A large amount of water leaked into the basement.

The nouns stress, money, and water are uncountable, which means they cannot be used with quantifiers such as ‘number/many/few’ etc.

Examples: ‘Number’ with Countable Nouns

  • A large number of people gathered on the street.
  • The report answered a number of important questions.
  • A number of cities have complained about the new policy.

The quantifier number describes something that can have a number. When you say “A large number of people gathered”, that means a large number, e.g. 500 people. Because we are referring to a number, then we must be talking about something we can count, i.e. a countable noun!

As you can see, the words people/questions/cities are all nouns that can be counted, which means the nouns have both singular and plural forms (person>people, question>questions, city>cities).

This is the key to using these two quantifiers correctly.

A large number of people gathered on the streets.

A large number of people gathered on the streets.

Do you think you understand? Try the below quiz.

  1. The  of children covered by health insurance increased to 4 million last year.
  2. Bill Gates has donated a significant  of money to charities.
  3. They felt a tremendous  of guilt for not helping her.
  4. The doctor recommended that Mike reduce the  of alcohol and the  of cigarettes he has every day.
Show Answers

1. The number of children covered by health insurance increased to 4 million last year.
2. Bill Gates has donated a significant amount of money to charities.
3. They felt a tremendous amount of guilt for not helping her.
4. The doctor recommended that Mike reduce the amount of alcohol and the number of cigarettes he has every day.

  1. The camera can measure the  of light in the room and adjust its settings accordingly.
  2. Yesterday’s dinner was attended by a  of current and former politicians.
  3. The final copy of the student’s essay still contained a  of grammar errors.
  4. The recommended  of nighttime sleep is seven to nine hours.
Show Answers

1. The camera can measure the amount of light in the room and adjust its settings accordingly.
2. Yesterday’s dinner was attended by a number of current and former politicians.
3. The final copy of the student’s essay still contained a number of grammar errors.
4. The recommended amount of nighttime sleep is seven to nine hours.

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