# How to talk about two different counts

In our scientific article, I have a sentence:

The numbers of residents and transients are constant over time.

I want to say that the number of resients is constant and the number of transients is also constant over time, but in a more elegant way, and I am not sure if the sentence above preserves this meaning and is grammaticaly correct.

• This sentence is simple, unambiguous, grammatical, and better than any of the suggested answers. Leave it as it is.
– Nye
Dec 4, 2023 at 15:45
• @Nye Almost. But all I would do is add one little "of" just before "transients". That would force the "and" to expand to "number of residents and number of transients" rather than "total number of residents and transients". One could argue that plural inflection of "numbers" is enough (which I would also keep), but grammatical redundancy never hurt anyone. Dec 5, 2023 at 1:40

I would suggest

Both the number of residents and [the number] of transients remain constant over time.

As it stands, your sentence suggests that the total remains constant, but the proportion of residents and transients might vary.

• "As it stands, your sentence suggests that the total remains constant, but the proportion of residents and transients might vary." Really? Even if I said "The numbers"? Dec 3, 2023 at 12:31
• So do you suggest this? "Both the number of residents and transients remain constant over time." ? Dec 3, 2023 at 12:31
• Or "the number of residents and transients both remain constant over time." Dec 3, 2023 at 14:12
• The number of residents and transients remain constant over time. That's the simplest edit here. Dec 3, 2023 at 14:12
• @Tomas Without repeating "the number", my suggestion is Both the number of residents and of transients remain constant over time. Dec 3, 2023 at 19:58

You could say:

The resident and transient populations both remain constant over time.

or

The resident and transient populations each remain constant over time.

The word each can be used with several items but both with only two:

Monday, Tuesday, and Friday are each fully booked but my calendar is open both Wednesday and Thursday.

P.S. In English, "the population remains constant" and "the population remains stable", unless modified in some way, refer to the size of the population. But one could always add "in size", though it isn't necessary:

The resident and transient populations each remain constant in size over time.

The resident and transient populations each remain stable over time.

For example:

The demographic characteristics of a population are the basic determinants of how the population changes over time. If birth and death rates are equal, the population remains stable. The population will increase if birth rates exceed death rates, but will decrease if birth rates are lower than death rates. Life expectancy, another important factor, is the length of time individuals remain in the population. It is impacted by local resources, reproduction, and the overall health of the population. These demographic characteristics are often displayed in the form of a life table. The Study of Population Dynamics

[my emphasis]

• But population doesn’t necessarily mean number or count; it could mean demographic makeup or whatever... Dec 5, 2023 at 2:49
• @TinfoilHat: Absent any discussion of demographic diversity and in the absence of a modifier like "genetically", the phrase would be understood to refer to their number. It is frequently used in that manner.
– TimR
Dec 5, 2023 at 11:09
• Thanks. Problem with this is that omitting the word "number" results in rather vague formulation ("populations remain constant"), whereas in this part of text, the exactness and unambiguity is crucial. Dec 5, 2023 at 14:50
• @Tomas: See the P.S. to the answer.
– TimR
Dec 5, 2023 at 15:06
• It's not precise enough for this rather mathematical context. The problem also is that the "transients" are not a "population" either... Dec 5, 2023 at 17:30

You have the option of using the phrase "as well as of".

(A grammar of botany, illustrative of artificial, as well as ... - Page 49 Sir James Edward Smith · 1821).. Hence so great a proportion of trees in hot climates,as well as of grasses in all climates , are polygamous;

• The number of residents, as well as of transients, is constant over time.

The result of this modification is a slight insistence on the fact that the transients are also concerned, but this slight nuance might be found acceptable as it introduces no real misrepresentation of information.

Another possibility consists in using an additional describing phrase in which the proper term is chosen according to the context at hand.

• For each one of these two categories/elements…, residents and transients, their number is constant over time.

Other means

• Both residents and transients are, over time, constant in number.
• "as well as of transients" is rather clunky phrasing nowadays.
– TimR
Dec 3, 2023 at 13:01
• Not my downvote, BTW.
– TimR
Dec 3, 2023 at 15:46
• +1 for the last suggestion. Compact and readable. Slightly abusing language because constant are the numbers and not the people themselves, but I think it's fine. Dec 4, 2023 at 13:26

From One minute English; Vocabulary; Conor (tidied):

Numbers of OR Number of? Which is correct?

...

What’s confusing about this is the –s and the fact that both phrases suggest plurality. Therefore, in some situations, each phrase can be interchangeable with the other.

Examples (the compound quantifier 'a large number of' always takes a plural verb form):

• Today, a large number of people are manually grading and detecting defects in wooden lamellae in the parquet flooring industry. [Science Direct]

......

So the original is ambiguous.

Other ways of disambiguating have been suggested; one is

• The numbers both of residents and of transients are constant over time.

The distributive singular ('The number both of ... is ...' sounds too awkward here.

• Thanks, but those examples are quite far away from my case. Dec 5, 2023 at 20:10
• Not so. 'The numbers of residents are constant over time' and 'the number of residents is constant over time' can both mean the same thing, involving no notion of sub-groups, so 'the numbers of residents and transients' is bound to be ambiguous (though probably favouring the 'the numbers of A plus the numbers of B' sense). Better is a rewrite. Dec 6, 2023 at 16:29

This would be an excellent time to deploy some attributive nouns:

Both resident and transient numbers are constant over time.

• Are you sure this is OK? It sounds weird to me... but I am no native speaker. Dec 5, 2023 at 19:44
• Dec 6, 2023 at 0:48