Number and quantity
Number is used for countable nouns, amount for uncountables.
Scale of adjectives useful for expressing number and quantity:
– Add just a tiny amount of chilli pepper, or else it may get too hot.
– A considerable number of people failed to get tickets, [formal]
– Vast amounts of money have been wasted on this project.
– Were there many people at the airport? Oh, about average, I’d say. [fairly informal]
Much and many do occur in affirmatives, but they sound formal and are probably best kept for formal written contexts.
– Much criticism has been levelled at the government’s policy.
– Many people are afraid of investing in stocks and shares.
Informal and colloquial words for number/quantity
– I’ve got dozens of nails in my tool-box. Why buy more? [especially good for countables]
– There’s heaps/bags/loads of time yet, slow down! [countable or uncountable and informal]
– There was absolutely tons of food at the party; far too much, [especially good for things, not so good for abstract nouns]
– There are tons of apples on this tree this year; last year there were hardly any. [note how the verb here is plural because of ‘apples’, but singular in the example before with ‘food’ – number depends on the noun following, not on tons/lots/loads]
– Just a drop of wine for me, please, [tiny amount of any liquid]
Degree and intensity
Typical collocations of adverbs: a bit/quite/rather/fairly/very/really/awfully/extremely combine with ‘scale’ adjectives such as tired, worried, weak, hot.
Totally/absolutely/completely/utterly combine with ‘limit’ adjectives such as ruined, exhausted, destroyed, wrong.