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    • Join Date: Apr 2010
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    #1

    "Every Amount"....this sounds wrong, but why?

    A colleague during a presentation said "Every amount of air that leaves the building must be replaced".

    I joked about it with him later assuming it was a slip of the tongue due to nerves, but I quickly realized to him this was a proper way to state his point and at the same time I couldn't explain why it was wrong.

    I assumed at first that the reason this sounded strange was becuase "every" is singular and "amount" is plural, but after thinking more I realize "amount" is a collective noun and is singluar.

    So why does "Every amount" not sound right? Is it right? or wrong?

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "Every Amount"....this sounds wrong, but why?

    I think it sounds wrong (to my British ear, at least), because an 'amount' is normally used to refer to a known or measurable amount; the short answer would be 'It's a weak collocation (if it's a collocation at all)'. Perhaps 'amount' just isn't countable...

    To get round this he could have said something countable - 'every molecule/litre/breath/bit [depending on his audience] of air that leaves a building has to be replaced.' Or he could have stuck with 'amount' and said 'Whatever,Any amount.... has to be replaced'.

    Whatever - something beginning with c (either 'collocation' or 'countability') comes into the answer!

    b

  2. kfredson's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: "Every Amount"....this sounds wrong, but why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big6ft6 View Post
    A colleague during a presentation said "Every amount of air that leaves the building must be replaced".

    I joked about it with him later assuming it was a slip of the tongue due to nerves, but I quickly realized to him this was a proper way to state his point and at the same time I couldn't explain why it was wrong.

    I assumed at first that the reason this sounded strange was becuase "every" is singular and "amount" is plural, but after thinking more I realize "amount" is a collective noun and is singluar.

    So why does "Every amount" not sound right? Is it right? or wrong?
    On first reading it did seem a little strange, but I can't see anything wrong with it. Amount is a singular noun, isn't it? It may deal with a collection of particles (or molecules) but it is still treated as singular.

    For instance, we might say, "There is a certain amount of air in each room in the building. If the amount that is one of the rooms were suddenly to leave, it would have to be replaced. This is true of every amount of air in the building." This wouldn't strike me as problematical.

    I thank you for bringing this sentence. I'm looking for alternatives that would say the same thing in a seemingly less awkward way.

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    #4

    Re: "Every Amount"....this sounds wrong, but why?

    One doesn't know the context, but "Every amount of air" does sound strange to me. And I think that 'Any amount' would better express the idea of no 'matter how little'.

    Perhaps 'Every bit of air' expresses that idea best.

    'All the air', if said emphatically, might work too.


    • Join Date: Apr 2010
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    #5

    Re: "Every Amount"....this sounds wrong, but why?

    Thanks for the ideas, I really struggled with this one too. The context was building ventilation. My colleague was trying to say that any air that is exhausted must be replaced to maintain nuetral building pressure.

    I think either "any air that leaves the building must be repalced" or "Every cubic foot of of air that leaves must be replaced".

    I agree it has to do with the "countability" of the noun. But I'm really struggling to find a rule that makes his sentence incorrect. As pointed out earlier one could have multile amounts of something, such as when baking. I think...?

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