Is it “number” or “amount”?
OK…this is not a technical post, it’s a word choice post.
I’m going to let you all in on one of my pet peeves … it seems that too many people who write about technology don’t know the difference between the words “number” and “amount”. A couple of examples:
- What is the amount of NICs in that server?
- The amount of TB of storage is surprising.
- The amount of ways the problem can be solved…
- The number of RAMs in servers today is amazing.
I could go on and on…but you get the idea. Let me make it as simple as I can:
- Used for items that are enumerable – i.e. you can count them as 1, 2, 3. In the examples above, you can count NICs, TB, and “ways”, but you can’t count “RAMs”.
- Used for things that do not have a definite quantity. Let’s use RAM as an example. [Q:] How much RAM is in your server? [A:] I have 64GB of RAM in my server.
- Notice that you provide a specific number of GB, but “RAM” is not a quantity.
So please, let’s start using the right word in the right place! When you get ready to write a word that indicates a certain quantity of something – consider whether you can COUNT the thing(s) you’re quantifying. And just in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t matter that you can count DIMMs, you can’t count RAM!