Number vs. amount

Lesson: when to use number and amount in sentences

The words number and amount are used in different situations.

Use number with things you can count (count nouns).

Use amount with things you can’t count (mass nouns).

For instance, you can count snakes, so snakes is a count noun. That means you would use the word number to go with them. Example: The number of snakes in this room is fifteen.

However, hatred is something you can’t count, since hatred is a mass noun. So you would use the word amount to go with it. Example: The amount of hatred I have for snakes has lessened.

Let’s look at a couple more examples:

Frida counted the number of marshmallows in the bag.
Frida measured the amount of sugar she needed for the recipe.

(Since Frida can count the marshmallows, we use number. Since she can’t count individual pieces of sugar, we use amount.)

For some extra help, here are examples of count nouns you would use number with and mass nouns you would use amount with:

number of cats amount of envy
number of paintings amount of sand
number of fried eggs amount of obsession
number of books amount of milk
number of bad grades amount of experience
number of salad bowls amount of news
number of nerds amount of failure
number of events amount of hilarity
number of aliases amount of water
number of bowel movements amount of urine

Test your skills with this quiz. Fill in either number or amount in the blanks. The answers are at the bottom.

1. Kenny feels proud about the _______ of pencils in his collection.
2. Stacy wondered the _______ of speeding tickets she could get before she went to jail.
3. Connie was alarmed at the _______ of violence in her neighborhood.
4. Lenny wants to know the _______ of marbles he can fit in his mouth.
5. Tracy walked out of class to protest the _______ of preference given to athletes.
6. Lacy underestimated the _______ of work it takes to be a marine biologist.

1. number 2. number 3. amount 4. number 5. amount 6. amount

Want more help with mass nouns?
Check out this Grammar Party post about using mass nouns.