Mass Nouns and Count Nouns

Amount  and number (the nouns, not the verbs) often get misused. Amount  is a mass noun and you use it when talking about things you can’t count: “There is a large amount of smog.” Number is used, well, for things you can number, so that should help you remember the rule. “I filed a number of lawsuits.”

I could say I see “a huge number of instances in which writers misuse the word amount, and a large amount of misunderstanding surrounding these two words.”

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  1. I graduated from High School in 1979 and from college in 1983. I have a BA in English/Creative Writing and Psychology (dual degree). My mother was a proofreader for technical journals for many years and also the English secretary at the undergraduate office of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. I have to admit, many of the grammatical posts I read here and in other bloggers’ posts sound like grammarians have made up a new language to describe rules that have existed for ages. I really feel out of the loop…has our language changed that much in 30 years?

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