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  1. #1
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default a large amount of + the plural form of a countable noun?

    Hi, everyone.
    Today when I was reading an article on anti-plagiarism software, I came across the structure of "a ... amount of + the plural form of a countable noun". The whole paragraph in which the structure appears goes as follows:
    "There's an increasing amount of freshmen who don't know how to write a research paper," Sheldon says. "There seems to be a lot of confusion. They're not out to violate, but I do think that there's something going on."
    I remember The CoBuild Usage Dictionary tells us not to use "an amount of" with things or people. Last weekend, when I was on a panel of judges for the graduating students' oral defense of their theses, I asked a student to change "a large amount of scholars (in the United States believe that the novel The Sun Also Rises reflects the richness of the content and artistic style of the originality of Hemingway's writing.)" to "a large number of scholars ..." Did I make a big mistake here? Quite probably the student copied the whole sentence from an article written by a native writer and he would laugh at my stupidity in urging him to change what is real English to what sounds unnatural.
    I beg you to do me a favour and tell me why this structure goes against authoritative dictionaries. Is this an issue of style? Is it a colloquialism, which is not used in formal writing or speech?
    Please help me out.
    Thanks.
    Richard

  2. #2
    Charlie Bernstein is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: a large amount of + the plural form of a countable noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Hi, everyone.
    Today when I was reading an article on anti-plagiarism software, I came across the structure of "a ... amount of + the plural form of a countable noun". The whole paragraph in which the structure appears goes as follows:
    "There's an increasing amount of freshmen who don't know how to write a research paper," Sheldon says. "There seems to be a lot of confusion. They're not out to violate, but I do think that there's something going on."
    I remember The CoBuild Usage Dictionary tells us not to use "an amount of" with things or people. Last weekend, when I was on a panel of judges for the graduating students' oral defense of their theses, I asked a student to change "a large amount of scholars (in the United States believe that the novel The Sun Also Rises reflects the richness of the content and artistic style of the originality of Hemingway's writing.)" to "a large number of scholars ..." Did I make a big mistake here? Quite probably the student copied the whole sentence from an article written by a native writer and he would laugh at my stupidity in urging him to change what is real English to what sounds unnatural.
    I beg you to do me a favour and tell me why this structure goes against authoritative dictionaries. Is this an issue of style? Is it a colloquialism, which is not used in formal writing or speech?
    Please help me out.
    Thanks.
    Richard
    No! You're right! And for the right reason. Tell them all to go straight to hell.

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing for a large number of students.]

  3. #3
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    Default Re: a large amount of + the plural form of a countable noun?


  4. #4
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Re: a large amount of + the plural form of a countable noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    No! You're right! And for the right reason. Tell them all to go straight to hell.

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing for a large number of students.]
    Thanks, Charlie. But the perplexing problem remains: Sheldon, the speaker of "There's an increasing amount of freshmen who don't know ...", is assistant dean of Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Science in Evanston, most problably a native speaker of English. I would like to refer you to http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-05-22-plagiarism-digital_x.htm.and let you have a look at it. The sentence "There's an increasing amount of freshmen who don't know..." is the first sentence in the last paragraph of the report. I would like to repeat my guess here: perhaps it is an issue of style; probably native youngsters like to speak this casual way.
    Thanks.

  5. #5
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Re: a large amount of + the plural form of a countable noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    You agree with me? You applauded my request for revision?

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    Default Re: a large amount of + the plural form of a countable noun?

    My post came straight after Charlie B's - I was applauding his sentiment.

    I wonder how the Dean felt, his role being so bound up in the image and reputation of his College, when his assistant demonstrated such poor grammar.

    The statement came in an interview with the national newspaper, USA Today:

    "There's an increasing amount of freshmen who don't know how to write a research paper," Sheldon says. "There seems to be a lot of confusion. They're not out to violate, but I do think that there's something going on."

    This is the stature of his eloquence?
    Last edited by David L.; 17-Mar-2009 at 11:02.

  7. #7
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Re: a large amount of + the plural form of a countable noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    My post came straight after Charlie B's - I was applauding his sentiment.

    I wonder how the Dean felt, his role being so bound up in the image and reputation of his College, when his assistant demonstrated such poor grammar.

    The statement came in an interview with the national newspaper, USA Today:

    "There's an increasing amount of freshmen who don't know how to write a research paper," Sheldon says. "There seems to be a lot of confusion. They're not out to violate, but I do think that there's something going on."

    This is the stature of his eloquence?
    Then, what's wrong with "but I do think that there's something going on" ?
    My understanding of his remarks is that he meant to say that these freshmen never deliberately intend to breach any school rules, but as they do not know how to write a research paper, they have no choice but to plagiarize. Is my understanding correct?
    Thanks.

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