A Measuring-Counting Conundrum

Some things we can measure or we can count, depending on the situation. Two of these are distance and time. Both consist of discrete units that are infinitely divisible, limited only by your choice of precision. So you can count the number of miles to town or measure the distance to town to whatever precision you like.

So how do you choose whether to use words such as “few” and “number” (for counting) or “less” and “amount” (for measuring)? Here we see Off the Mark’s cat getting it wrong:

Here’s a good rule of thumb if you’re ever in doubt:

If the word is singular, use “amount.”
If the word is plural, use “number.”

So you have an amount of time but a number of minutes.

Piece of cake.

PS—I just ran into someone at a higher level than a cat (Matthew Hickey, a security researcher and co-founder of cybersecurity firm Hacker House) getting it wrong:

“The [passcodes] don’t always go to the [secure enclave processor] in some instances — due to pocket dialing [or] overly fast inputs — so although it ‘looks’ like pins are being tested they aren’t always sent and so they don’t count, the devices register less counts than visible,” he tweeted.