Word choice: an informal writing prompt

Here is a message sent by the property manager of an apartment building to its residents for you to display and read to your students:

Tuesday the 16th a building inspector will be coming to the property. He may need to access a certain amount of apartments. I will not know what apartments until the day of the inspection.

Tell students: In no more than two sentences, identify what errors, if any, you find in that message and how to correct them. You have one minute to write.

Oral follow-up

The error is that the word amount should be number because apartments are countable. Amount is used to signify the size of something whose components are not, for all practical purposes, individually countable.

We measure things that cannot be counted by the amount of space they occupy. The word that means “the amount of space something occupies” is volume. If we want to know how much water is in a bucket, we don’t count individual waters. An amount of water in a bucket could be measured in teaspoons, cups, liters, gallons, etc., not in the number of individual drops of water in the bucket.

Whether or not you choose to do the follow-up in class, college the written work so you can see both how students are doing at applying grammar knowledge and whether they are making any progress at expressing themselves quickly in writing.

© 2021 Linda Gorton Aragoni