Amount vs Number • Super simple explanation with many examples


When you are writing about things, it’s easy to get amount and number confused. When do you use each one?


Use amount when you talk about mass or uncountable nouns. These are nouns that you cannot count without using a unit of measurement. See the example below.

  • The amount of water

Even though you can say 1mL of water to measure it, you cannot count water by itself.


Use number when you talk about count nouns. These are nouns that you can count and say specifically how many there are. See the example below.

  • The number of birds

When you talk about birds, you can see that there are one, two, or any other number of birds. It is clear how many there are without using a unit of measurement.

More examples and explanations

The number of cells that are growing in that petri dish is incredible!

Because cells can be measured (such as one cell, two cells, ten thousand cells, etc.), number is the correct word to use in this case.

The amount of effort that Jace put into the article was pitiful. No wonder the quality of it was so poor.

Effort cannot be measured directly. You cannot say one effort; you can only use one hour of effort – in other words, you have to use a unit of measurement to quantify the effort. As a result, amount is the correct word to use for this.

I have created a small number of videos that you can watch when you have the time.

You can have one video or a million videos, so videos can be counted. For this example, video is a count noun and number is correct.

The amount of trust that your boss has in your is really quite incredible!

Even though you can have a lot of trust or a little trust, you cannot know whether the amount of trust you are talking about will match what the other person understands. This is because trust is not countable, so amount is the correct word.

Polly got a large amount of hair cut off at the barber shop today.

In this case, hair is an uncountable noun. Hair refers to all the hair that Polly has, not the individual hairs on her head. Because there is no way to know how much hair it is, amount is correct.

 Can you believe that someone has to count the number of hairs there are on that wig?

In contrast to the previous example, this example refers to hairs as individual things. The person mentioned in the question has to count each individual strand of hair separately, and can say that there are 4,503 hairs (or whatever the real number is). Therefore, number is correct.

More for you:
››› Numbers, Years, Length, Dates in English!
››› Ordinal Numbers in English!
››› What are Quantifiers? Quantifiers List and Examples
››› English Adverbs of Quantity (List)!

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