How well do you use words? Read this blog and answer a few simple questions. (1)
There are quite a few common errors in the use of words in English. We have grammar rules for a reason. Without the use of correct grammar, misunderstandings can easily occur. I once heard something like this on the radio. (I cannot quote the exact situation as it was a long time ago, but this is more-or-less what was said.)
A man was sentenced to 3 years in jail for stealing money in court today.
Now I’m quite sure the man did not steal the money while in court, but that is what was said.
A correct sentence should have said,
‘A man was sentenced in court today to 3 years in jail for stealing money.’
This is just one example of many. Unfortunately, many of the culprits are journalists who should know better.
When I was at school we did lots of exercises of this kind, having to correct the sentence.
Another thing that does not make me laugh, but causes me to shout at the radio or TV and that is the misuse of Amount and Number.
Amount/number. I frequently hear people using the word ‘amount’ when they ought to be using the word ‘number’.
A simple rule is “If you count it, then you say ‘number’ but if you measure it you say ‘amount’.”
Thus it would be: ‘The number of people at the music festival exceeded all expectation,’ or ‘The team needed to score a greater number of goals in order to win the match.’
And: ‘The amount of rainfall this month was above average,’ or ‘The amount of time required for the task is greater than that allowed.’
Another way of thinking of it is that if you are talking about things that come in whole numbers (e.g. people, goals etc. You can’t have half a person or half a goal!) then you say ‘number’ but if you can have fractions, then it would be amount. (e.g. time, weight, length etc.)
Some people might like to think of it in terms of analogue and digital. ‘Number’ is used for digital numbers, and ‘amount’ for analogue.
I will leave you to consider this with these few simple exercises. I will post the correct answers in my next post, which will likely be next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Correct the following sentences:
1. Bulldog for sale. Will eat anything. Very fond of children.
2. The dog growled at me as I was passing in a very aggressive manner.
3. Caroline’s bag was found by a man full of groceries.
4. The wool was found by the playful kitten in a complete tangle.
5. Man saved from being killed by train on rail line.
This last one is on I’ve just seen on BT.
Put the correct word, Amount or Number into these sentences.
1. There was a greater ———- of rainfall than usual last month.
2. There was a greater ———- of people at the match than usual.
3. The girl put a large ———– of sugar in the cake she was making.
4. If you look at the window you can see the ———- of raindrops that have hit it.
5. We need to score a greater ———– of goals than that if we are to win the league.