*number*of people who talk about 'the

*amount*of people', for instance.

The distinction is so simple – and actually significant in mathematical terms. Some variables are discrete and measured by counting the number of items in a set. The value of such a variable is 'the number of items'. Other variables are continuous and measured by the size of the quantity, often in units of measurement such as grams or litres. The value of this kind of variable is 'the amount'.

It's easy to spot the difference. If you are using a plural noun then it is 'the number' of items. If you are using a singular noun then it is 'the amount'.

The

*number*of bottles of wine, but the*amount*of wine in each bottle.
The

*number*of cups of coffee, but the*amount*of coffee in each cup.Here are some other examples.

I would talk about the large

*number*of slices of toast I had for breakfast (slices: plural); but the huge

*amount*of toast (toast: singular).

I would talk about the

*number*of people in my garden on Sunday lunchtime (people: plural); but the

*amount*of food that they ate (food: singular).

I would talk about the

*number*of cars on the road (cars: plural); but the

*amount*of traffic (traffic: singular).

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