Amount Of, Quantity Of, and Number Of

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Amount Of, Quantity Of, and Number Of

When should I write "amount of," "quantity of," and "number of"?
  • Use "amount of" before singular things you cannot measure. For example:
    • A large amount of disdain
  • Use "quantity of" before a singular (and sometimes plural) thing you can measure, particularly if it's inanimate. For example:
    • A large quantity of money
  • Use "number of" before plural things you can measure. For example:
    • A large number of coins
amount, quantity, or number difference

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
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More about "Amount Of," "Quantity Of," and "Number Of"

There are subtle differences between "amount of," "quantity of" and "number of."

Amount Of

The term "amount of" is used for things you cannot measure, i.e., non-countable nouns. "Amount of" usually precedes a singular word.

Example sentences with "amount of":
  • I undertook an inordinate amount of work.
  • ("Work" is a non-countable noun. It is singular and cannot be measured or counted.)
  • She had a certain amount of respect for the sales team, but she always dissented when they spoke at meetings.
  • ("Respect" is singular and cannot be measured or counted.)
  • It is not difficult to see where that amount of hate derives.
  • ("Hate" is singular and cannot be measured or counted.)
  • The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one's clean linen in public. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
  • ("Women" is plural and can be counted. This should be "the number of women." )

Quantity Of

The term "quantity of" is used with singular or plural (but mostly singular) things that you can measure, i.e., countable nouns. It is usually applied to inanimate objects. (Some older grammar references might advocate that "quantity of" can only precede a singular word; however, this view is now considered outdated.)

Example sentences with "quantity of":
  • I took control of a large quantity of money.
  • ("Money" is singular and can be measured or counted.)
  • The ship was only carrying a large quantity of mangoes.
  • ("Mangoes" is plural, and they can be measured or counted.)
    (Note: "Number of" could also be used in this example. In fact, "number of" is preferable as it is unlikely to be considered incorrect by those who don't like to see "quantity of" with a plural noun.)

Number Of

The term "number of" precedes a plural, countable noun. It can be applied to both animate and inanimate objects.

Example sentences with "number of":
  • The disease affected a large number of camels in the town.
  • ("Camels" is plural and animate, and they can be counted.)
  • The ship was only carrying a large number of mangoes.
  • ("Mangoes" is plural and inanimate, and they can be counted.)
    (Note: "Quantity of" could also be used in this example.)

A Quick Word about "Less" and "Fewer"

"Amount of" should be used with a singular word, and "number of" should be used with a plural word. Similarly, "less" should be used before a singular word, and "fewer" should be used with a plural word.

Read more about using less and fewer.

Should I Use "Quantity Of" or "Amount Of"?

People will have different ideas on what is measurable. For example:
  • Do I need that amount of sleep?
Is sleep measurable? If you judge that sleep can be measured in hours, then "quantity of sleep" could be an acceptable alternative. In general, tangible objects (i.e., things you can touch) attract "quantity of," and intangible objects attract "amount of."
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? qualitative and quantitative tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words