# Do we use "the amount of" or "the number of" for mixed plural and singular nouns?

"the number of" precedes plural countable nouns, as in:

"The number of paper products..."

"the amount of" precedes non-count nouns, as in:

"The amount of oil..."

How if we want to say "the total" of both countable and uncountable nouns?
a. The number of paper products and oil is hard to measure.
b. The amount of paper products and oil is hard to measure.

• You could use 'quantity', which would be appropriate for either, but you're mixing apples and oranges, and there's no good 'fruit' category here. It's like x = 3 + 5i -- not further reducible. Jan 22, 2015 at 13:49
• @idunno Neat, if complex, analogy. Jan 22, 2015 at 16:58
• @idunno. 'Quantity' is noted. I see. Btw, I wonder if I could use 'total' as in "The total of paper products and oil..." Jan 22, 2015 at 21:58
• Again, I'd say no. You're trying to get a common modifier for two different things. Even if a common word would technically work for each alone, it'll be awkward at best to have it modify countable and uncountable simultaneously. The implication is that they are, together, subject to a single measurement -- which is impossible. Jan 23, 2015 at 13:22

Since they require separate quantifiers, you can either use both "the number of paper products and the amount of oil are hard to measure..." or just use "the amount" which is good for both: "The amount of paper products and oil are hard to measure..."

• Yes. 'The number of people and amount of food required have doubled' doesn't 'simplify'. And in this case, replacing 'number [of paper products]' with 'amount' changes the sense. Jan 22, 2015 at 17:00
• In addition to 'amount' changing the sense, I think you'd preferably use 'amounts' rather than 'amount' -- specifically because they are two differently measured amounts, and a singular 'amount' implies a single measurement. Jan 23, 2015 at 13:19