I have encountered the following two sentences. In the first sentence, the writer use the word ‘number’ and the word ‘amount’ in the second one. Can I ask if both are correct? or which expression is correct?

In 2013, British ecologist Mark Browne/ launched a project to help reduce the number of microfibers released into the oceans. Avoiding [personal care products that have microbeads in them] and [clothing that was made from synthetic fibers]// would reduce the amount of microplastics entering marine and coastal environments.


They are relatively interchangeable here.

When we say "number", we are referring to a defined/finite amount, whereas "amount" can also be interpreted as an overall mass, for example.

I would say the usages in the quote you have shared are appropriate for the following reasons (it's not a strict interpretation, but more why I like it in terms of style):

the number of microfibers released into the oceans

This implies, potentially, that we know the number, which to me hints at it being within our control. "Released" implies the perspective of the one who is releasing.

the amount of microplastics entering marine and coastal environments

This implies more of an unknown quantity and subtly serves to highlight that it is a large amount. "Entering" implies the perspective of the marine and coastal environments, which have no control.

So I like the way these words have been used for expression, and perhaps it would be considered somewhat idiomatic to use them in this way, at least in this particular context.

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  • I respect you. I feel you are a great scholar. I have come to understand the difference clearly thanks to your detailed explanation. I am very much obliged to you for your kind information. – Suwon Kim Nov 19 '19 at 18:40
  • You're very welcome, and thank you for your kind words. If I may ask that you please mark the answer as correct (the green tick/check) if you feel it is so. :) – Chris Mack Nov 19 '19 at 18:45
  • I think I already did. Don't you see it from there? I clicked "This answer is useful, the green triangle) – Suwon Kim Nov 19 '19 at 18:51
  • You have clicked the "up" arrow, but there should be a green tick just beneath that up/down section? – Chris Mack Nov 19 '19 at 18:52
  • Did i do right now? I am sorry I don't know about that. – Suwon Kim Nov 19 '19 at 18:53

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