Tips on Tuesday: Countable or Indeterminate?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

OK. Time for a dose of grammar! I know, I know, you all learned the “rules” when you were “kids.” But the truth is, learning all the rules always seemed hard. I’d like to take a crack at a few of them, just to tell you some easier ways to tell which is correct and you won’t have to remember the old rules.

Let’s take the case of “amount” and “number”:

Use “amount” if you are referring to an unmeasurable load of “something,” like money. You may have a large amount of money, or a large amount of snow. Some grammar books will liken this to being used when describing a “singular” noun. The term “money” is singular, even if there is a lot of it. So use “amount.” Same with snow.

On the other hand, if it can be counted, you would have a measurable load of something, like a large number of coins, or large number of debts, even a large number of “snowflakes”. These (coins, debts, and flakes) could all be counted ‑‑‑though don’t sign me up to count snowflakes. Theoretically, they could be counted. I just don’t want to have to do it.

If you are talking about a little bit of something, you have the same problems as above, but you’ll be using the terms “less” and “fewer”.

You may have “less snow” this year than last (If you’re lucky ‑ most places in the U.S. probably had more in 2014). You wouldn’t say “fewer snow” because it can’t be counted. You could have “fewer snow storms”—countable. And you may have “less money” this year, but “fewer dollars” because you can count dollars. The word “money” is singular, and can’t be counted: “I have 27 monies”? Or “27 moneys”? Dollars can be counted, but not its singular counterpart: “money.”

Countable? Or some indeterminate amount? That’s all you need to decide.

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!


1 Comment

Filed under Tips for Tuesday

One response to “Tips on Tuesday: Countable or Indeterminate?

  1. Thanks for the reminder.

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