There are lots of words we use every day that have subtleties that most people never learned. The usage differences between “an amount of” and “a number of” fall into this category. Much like farther/further or less/fewer, the correct use comes down to measurability—specifically count-ability in this case.
Here’s today’s lesson:
- “Amount of” should be used when referring to uncountable things.
- “Number of” should be used when referring to things you can actually count.
There’s a great amount of wisdom that readers can glean from blogs these days. A great number of my favorites teach me new things every day. Wisdom is not countable. Blogs are.
I should add in the an extra note about “a quantity of,” which follows “number” in that it only refers to countable things. There are more differences there, but we’ll save it for another day. Quality over quantity, right?