I think they can be synonymous in some context, but how to learn in which context I can use one and not another? Can you explain and give example about the precise meaning.

2 Answers 2



is only a number expressing a quantity


is the result of adding numbers together


is the result of calculation, not necessarily by addition

Sum and total are amounts.
A sum is a total amount through addition.
A total is a cumulative amount.

2 + 4 + 5, sum is 11, total is 11, amount is 11
2 *4 *5, total is 40, amount is 40, there is no sum since it is multiplication



The most common meaning for the word sum is the result of the addition of two or more numbers/items.

  • The sum of 1 and -22 is -21

Or the action of doing the addition.

  • Can you sum these two numbers for me?

The other meaning is a particular amount of money.

  • They can't afford this sum. (In this example we can also use the word amount: They can't afford this amount.)


Noun: It means a quantity of something

  • The amount of oxygen in air.

And is usually used when talking about money

  • He bets a huge amount on the lottery.

Verb: to come out to be/to total

  • She won't amount to anything in her life.
  • The loss amounts/sums/totals to three billion.


Noun: complete/overall

  • His party was a total failure.
  • She won a total of three competitions.

Verb: As a verb, total and amount are synonyms.

I hope this was helpful!

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