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Large amount of amounts

[8 Dec 2016] ‘Amount’ and ‘number’: Is it time for sticklers to admit defeat in their rearguard action against the use of ‘amount’ instead of ‘number’, eg: ‘Mr Roberts’s remarks had upset “a huge amount of employees”?’ (Times, 4 Aug 2016)

The rule used to be simple enough: use ‘amount’ for mass nouns, ie singulars and commodities like bread, cheese, vinegar, and pork; use ‘number’ with count nouns, ie plurals like loaves, cheese pies, bottles of non-brewed condiment, and pigs.

Today, most people in the broadcast media seem to use ‘amount’ for everything, so it’s commonplace to hear ‘A large amount of children walked through the school gates’, as if children are weighed by the ton (obesity hotspots only). In a piece about the Internet Movie Database in the Times on 10 Nov 2016, Kevin Maher writes: ‘The StarMeter, especially, has changed the way movies are cast. It is utterly simple and brutally effective, and collated by counting the amount of clicks a star’s IMDb profile page receives.’ Also from the Times (31 Oct 2016), Simon Hughes sneaks this googly past the snoozing subeditor: ‘Adil Rashid’s lack of confidence in Test cricket is betrayed by the amount of different deliveries he tries in an over.’

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