1) There is such an amount of chemicals in the water that no germs would survive in it.

2) There is such a quantity of chemicals in the water that no germs would survive in it.


Do the sentences refer to the number of the chemicals or to their concentration in the water? Are we talking about a 'mass' or the number of the chemicals?




Original Post

Hi, Navi,

Although we have been taught that "amount" can only be used with noncount nouns, I think it does work with "chemicals" here, but "chemicals" is to be understood as a mixture of chemical substances. As a matter of fact, "amount" sounds to me as identical in meaning to "quantity," with "chemicals" being treated as a whole or as a "mass," as you say.

Instead, "number" would give the idea of variety, a concept I find to be absent in "amount" and "quantity." If we use the word "number," we get the idea of individual chemical substances contaminating the water.

(a) seems wrong to me because, unlike chemicals which can be found to be mixed in a mass of chemical substances, thus allowing for the use of "amount," books don't lose their individual appearance and separate existence.

In (b) -- which is correct -- "quantity" is synonymous with "number." Of course, the more the books, the heavier they will be and the larger the space they will take up, but to me "quantity" clearly refers to their number in the case of books or similar individual items.

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