26 May Academic Task 1 Masterclass: number, figure, amount, percentage
In task 1 we almost always see errors in ‘the number/figure/percentage/amount + of/for’. We will try to explain them for you.
‘the number + of/for’.
- We use ‘number’ to describe something countable, such as ‘students’. We don’t use it for something uncountable, like ‘waste’.
- We use ‘the number OF’ to describe the thing we are counting. For example, in the graph below, we are counting books. (click on the image for a clearer view)
- We use ‘the number FOR’ to describe the category. In the case above, it is ‘males’ and ‘females’ (‘the number FOR MALES’).
- Sometimes, the name of the thing we are counting, and the name of the category are the same. In this example, the thing we are counting is the number of meals and the categories are also meals. In this situation, you could use both ‘the number OF fast food meals’ and ‘the number FOR fast food meals’, although here, ‘the number OF’ is more natural. (click on the image for a clearer view)
- Remember, ‘of‘ for the thing we are counting, and ‘for‘ for the name of a category (that is NOT the thing we are counting). If they are basically the same, use ‘of‘. Here is a final example(click on the image for a clearer view):
Here, it is ‘the number OF visitors‘ and ‘the number FOR John F. Kennedy Airport‘. We are counting ‘visitors’ but we are not counting airports!
‘the figure for’.
- You can NOT say ‘the figure of’. This does not exist in English. You can ONLY use ‘the figure for’
- You can use ‘the figure for’ to describe the thing you are measuring. You can use it for countable AND uncountable nouns (you can ONLY use ‘number’ for countable nouns).
The figure for students in China was…
The figure for agricultural waste was….
- We often use ‘figure’ with the name of a category.
The figure for Japan stood at…
The figure for the British Museum rose over the period…
Here is an example with some sentences using ‘the number of/for’ and ‘the figure for’(click on the image for a clearer view):
The number of unpaid hours performed by married women without children was 30
(we are measuring hours, so we use ‘of’)
The number for married men with three children was approximately 17.
The figure for married women with 3+ children stood at approximately 55.
The figures for married men were considerably lower than women in all age ccategories.
The number of daily calories per person in Peru was 1927.
(we are counting calories)
The figure for life expectancy at birth in Zaire was the lowest in the table, at 47.
The figure for annual income per person in Japan stood at 15760, almost 100 times that of Peru.
- ‘amount of’ is ONLY used to describe uncountable things. You CANNOT say ‘the amount of students’. You CAN say ‘the amount of money‘
- We don’t normally use ‘amount of’ when the thing we are talking about is measured in percentages. For example, we wouldn’t say ‘the amount of unemployment in Japan was 25%‘. Here, we would use ‘the figure for‘. We usually use ‘amount of’ with units like currency or weight, such as:
The amount of money spent on ice cream in the USA rose from $12m to $14m.
In 1992, the amount of waste produced in China was 75mt (megatonnes)
- You can use ‘the amount for’ to refer to a category (like ‘the number for’).
The amount for China remained steady at 15mt.
The amount for international students decreased by 25% to $34m.
- We don’t use ‘amount’ very much. It is typically used to refer to ‘money’ ‘time’ ‘food’ and ‘rubbish/waste’.
1. ‘percentage of/for’ is similar to ‘number of/for’
2. ‘percentage of’ is normally used with countable nouns
The percentage of French students was 45%.
The percentage of books from Canada rose from 12% to 17%.
3. ‘percentage for’ is used for categories, such as countries.
The percentage for Canada was double that of the USA.