July 22, 2006

Gratuitous Grammatical Griping

Let's review:

One uses "amount" when speaking of the total quantity of some one thing, e.g. "a large amount of water" or "a small amount of money."

One uses "number" when speaking of units of something, e.g. "a large number of gallons" or "a small number of pennies."

Following on this, one does not say "a large amount of people." It's "a large number of people." Yet I've seen the former expression more and more recently, even in the writing of some authors one would expect to know better. I'm not talking about bloggers writing on the fly, either. I mean professional writers backed up (presumably) by legions of editors.

What is this world coming to?

I may need a large number of wine in order to cope.

UPDATE: I see I'm not the only one bewailing the death of the gentle art of editing.

Posted by Robert at July 22, 2006 09:00 AM | TrackBack

How about a large number of beers?

The word misuse which really irritates me is "aggravate". I used to work with a woman who must have been a pre-existing condition.

Posted by: triticale at July 28, 2006 05:50 AM

You can say "a large number of beers" because you're talking about units: although it isn't stated, the implication is that you're talking about cans or bottles.

Posted by: Robbo the Cake Eater at July 28, 2006 07:22 AM

And lots of Cheetos.

Posted by: agent bedhead at July 29, 2006 06:42 PM