Friday, October 29, 2010

Grammar Goody #6-- Number and Amount are Not Synonymous

Many people use amount these days for everything dealing with quantity, but that's not always correct. There is a hard-and-fast rule about this (not the hyphens between the compound adjective words?)

1. Use amount only for things that can't be counted:
The amount of love in the world today...

The amount of fear...

2. Use number for things that can be counted:
The number of soldiers serving in Afghanistan....

So this sentence below would clearly be wrong (and I heard it on a news broadcast a few days ago)

The amount of voters is much lower this year than two years ago.

Why is that wrong? Because voters can be counted.

BUT, if the sentence were like this:
The amount of voter apathy is much higher this year than two years ago...
That would be correct because voter apathy can't be counted.

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