a great amount of [for 'a great number of']

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
Just come to mind:

If someone casually said there were a lot of books in a room, chances would be there might be one-hundred huge books on the shelves, medium-sized books, or small few-page magazines, or a mixture of them.

In the case of the first, wouldn't it tempt you to use 'amount' in such an example as 'There is a great amount of books in my room'? Though I know books are countable and so you should use 'number' instead, there may be this induction toward using 'amount.' Carefree speakers may say something like that, may they not?
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    'There is a great amount of books in my room'
    This isn't a sentence that would come naturally to me. I'd normally expect "There are many/a lot of books...", or perhaps "There's a large number of books..."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Amount" tends to imply that the items in question have not been positioned in any particular order or are not considered to be in any particular order.

    "There was an amount of sand on the floor." "The amount of rice was less than the previous year."

    (Crossposted)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    An "amount of books" doesn't work for me, even when I'm feeling particularly carefree. A "load of books" does. There's a load of books in my room.

    Some people don't hesitate to use it, but they don't sound very casual:
    Google Ngram Viewer

     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, Barque. Hi, Edinburgher. Hi, Paul.

    Would that mean if you saw tons of books and magazines scattered on the floor, you might say 'There is a good amount of books thrown on the floor. Need to pick them back in place'?
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, Veli.

    Yes, the reason why I asked this query was because I had this weird notion I heard 'amount of books' more than just once.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi, Barque. Hi, Edinburgher. Hi, Paul.

    Would that mean if you saw tons of books and magazines scattered on the floor, you might say 'There is a good amount of books thrown on the floor. Need to pick them back in place'?
    No. I agree with the others, 'amount' (good or otherwise) doesn't sound natural when talking about a number of books.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Your example is clear in what you intend but not particularly idiomatic in that context - I would be able to say "A large amount of the books which had been donated had to be destroyed."
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'm interested in HSS's theory that this might be a casual usage, perhaps in that someone might be tempted to talk rather dismissively about a large number of books as an uncountable commodity. I would say you could, but not by using "great amount"..
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    I'm interested in HSS's theory that this might be a casual usage, perhaps in that someone might be tempted to talk rather dismissively about a large number of books as an uncountable commodity. I would say you could, but not by using "great amount"..
    What would you imagine somebody would possibly use instead, Veli?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    There’s a mound of books on the floor. I agree that “an amount” refers only to uncountable nouns (rice, sugar, butter etc) and not to books, cars or people (a mound of people? :()
    However, using amount for countable nouns books etc is a growing usage that will always grate on my ears!

    WRF entry has

    • The traditional distinction between amount and number is that amount is used with mass or uncountable nouns (the amount of paperwork;
      the amount of energy
      ) and number with countable nouns (a number of songs;
      a number of days
      ). Although objected to, the use of amount instead of number with countable nouns occurs in both speech and writing, especially when the noun can be considered as a unit or group (the amount of people present;
      the amount of weapons
      ) or when it refers to money (the amount of dollars paid;
      the amount of pennies in the till
      ).
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Well, we do talk of an amount of money, so the leap from there to an amount of dollars or pennies is not huge. We sometimes talk of a dollar-amount.
    That apart, I couldn't agree more that the general trend of using amount for countables is to be frowned upon.

    With books, though, we sometimes do them the disservice of treating them as a commodity. We don't count them, we measure them. Mr and Mrs Nouveau-Riche are having a mansion built, and of course it must have a library, or so their interior designer advises them. So the walls are kitted out with row upon row of bookshelves. Then someone comes round to measure how many linear yards' worth of shelf space need to be filled with books -- any books, so long as they look good, preferably with leather spines. Even then I would hesitate to collocate amount with books.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top