I am designing a system where a user would enter dish portion size (?) and units, such as:

  • Dish: Burger, or Cola, or Egg
  • Units: gram, or millilitre, or piece
  • Size(?): a numeric value, such as 200 (g), 500 (mL), 1 (piece)

What would be the best term for "Size" here? I used to use "Amount" but then I learned that amount is used to refer to nouns that can't be measured. Is that so? I know that typically dishes have output weight, but that's not always the case as some are sold by volume or pieces so I'm hesitating to use "Weight" as the common term. I was also considering "Portion size" or "Portion" alone.

I would prefer the word to only refer to the numeric value (a number) if possible, as if it shouldn't make sense on its own without measuring units attached to it.

2 Answers 2


Wiktionary says that "amount" can be used for either non-discrete (that is, "measurable") items or for the number of elements in a set (that is, "non-measurable" items), but that the later is considered "proscribed" (meaning, some experts say you aren't allowed or "supposed" to do it).

As a native English speaker, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that the proscribed version you are trying to avoid is actually very common in use by native speakers, especially for the exact situation you want to use it in. Grammarians may become annoyed, such as in this humorous example of a similar related "error", but that doesn't stop it being common and accepted by a large portion of the native speaking population.

All that said, you are in luck: there is a grammarian approved word that covers both measurable and discrete objects!

quantity (countable and uncountable, plural quantities) (abbreviated qty)

  1. A fundamental, generic term used when referring to the measurement (count, amount) of a scalar, vector, number of items or to some other way of denominating the value of a collection or group of items.
    You have to choose between quantity and quality.


  1. A specific measured amount.
    This bag would normally costs $497.50 for a quantity of 250, at a price of $1.99 per piece.
  • 1
    I certainly would use "quantity" for say purchase orders, such as in "the quantity of burgers a shop sold = 10". However, when referring to a burger as a dish, are you saying one can essentially say "burgers are measured in grams and the quantity [of those grams] in a burger = 200"? Jun 14 at 8:34
  • "The weight of a burger is 200g". Jun 14 at 13:05
  • @KateBunting it certainly is; my problem is that I need a single term to refer to weight, volume, number of slices etc. Jul 29 at 14:31

The technicality would apply when the unit is items of food, e.g. 8 chicken nuggets; if you were trying to capture only this case, you should use "number" or "count". When it's units such as grams or milliliters, "amount" is correct any way you spin it, as these units exist specifically to quantify uncountable substances.

Overall, I'd expect "amount" to be accepted as a blanket term even by the most obnoxious prescriptivist because it's obviously capturing several things at once. Certainly it is the most common term in such applications.

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