Here is the sentence:

Local fixed line calls were the highest throughout the period, rising from 72 billion minutes in 1995 to just under 90 billion in 1998.

I think there should be the phrase 'the number of' before the subject 'local fixed line calls' because the following predicate said something was the highest. I'm not sure whether this case is a grammatical omission. If so, is it customary to omit phrases like 'the number of' and 'the amount of' when somebody describes the quantity of something?

  • "The number of" wouldn't fit with using minutes as a unit of measure. "The amount of..." might work. Either way, it's awkwardly worded throughout. Better would be, "Local fixed line calls were at their highest during the period."
    – gotube
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


There's a tension in examples such as this between formal grammar and the object of communicating the information as successfully as possible.

Nobody can doubt the meaning of the sentence as it stands. It's clear and concise. (Presumably, you have already specified the period that you refer to, and calls are typically measured in minutes rather than hours.)

If you want to be exact, you can insert the number of (in which case I would change the sentence to read: The number of fixed line calls was highest.....

At this point, you have polished your sentence but given your reader an additional useless phrase to take in.

Unless you were writing to impress an examiner, I should leave the sentence as it stands.

  • In a formal writing, for example an essay in a test, should I add such phrases like 'the number of' whenever talking about the number or amount of something? Or it's ok to leave them out just like the example sentence.
    – ing
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 14:47

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