Some nouns can be counted individually. A person could count the crayons in a box, the eggs in a carton, or the people on a train. These are called count nouns. Other nouns can’t be counted individually. A person could not count air, dirt, or happiness. These are called mass nouns.
English has specific words to use in reference to the quantity of mass and count nouns. Amount and number are two such words. Continue reading to discover the difference between them, and to find out whether you should use number or amount.
Amount originated from Middle English (as a verb): from Old French amunter, from amont ‘upward’, literally ‘uphill’, from Latin ad montem . The noun use dates from the early 18th century. Number originated from Middle English: from Old French nombre (noun), nombrer (verb), from Latin numerus.
Amount as noun:
Amount as verb:
When used as a verb it is used to come to be (the total) when added together.
Number as noun:
Number as verb:
The demonstrators numbered more than 5,000.
Scientists have long noted that just about any event that shifts a large amount of mass from one part of the planet to another will have a tiny—and sometimes measurable—effect on the Earth’s rotation. [Wall Street Journal]
Number or amount:
Amount and number both refer to quantity, but each word has its own specific use. Number is used with nouns that can be individually counted, like stars Amount is used for nouns that cannot be individually counted, like starlight. If you aren’t sure whether to use amount or number, remember that “a” “mount” is used with “a” “mass” noun. Amount and a mass noun both begin with the letters “am.” This should help you keep these words straight.