Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Quantity and Unit

Quantity vs Unit

The English nouns “quantity” and “unit” are both used to refer to the number or amount of things. While they may have similar functions, they are used in different instances and are used in diverse and distinct contexts.

“Quantity” is a noun which is used to describe the number or amount of something. The idea of a quantity has been in existence since before the time of Aristotle who considered it to be of scientific and metaphysical significance. The quantity of things can be divided into a multitude and a magnitude as it usually refers to a huge amount or number of things and is used in a plural form. So when one is talking about a large, uncountable number or amount of items, the term “quantity” is used. It refers to an estimated number of things or an indefinite number of items. It is not limited to refer to a number, though. It is also used to refer to the other properties and attributes of things such as their length, weight, size, and other characteristics.

One can compare the quantities of things by identifying if they are equal or if one is less or more than the other. Examples of its use are these sentences: “We will need a huge quantity of food to feed these people.” “One has to possess a large quantity of patience, dedication, and love to become a teacher.” The term “quantity” has been used in the English language since the early 14th century. It came from the Old French word “quantite” which was derived from the Latin word “quantitatem” which means “relative extent” or “greatness.”

The term “unit,” on the other hand, is also a noun which is used to describe a definite and unified number of things. By “definite” it means that it is clear and exact. Although they are more than one, they are considered as one entity. “Unit” is usually used when a whole body of things or people is subdivided into smaller groups which can have only a few or many countable things within it. Each group is referred to as a unit which is distinct from the others.

Examples are: the units in an apartment complex, the units in the Armed Forces, and this sentence: “This game needs to have the participants divided into several units to compete with each other.”

The term “unit” has been in use since the mid-16th century. It was developed with the English translation of Euclid by John Dee who used it to express the Greek word “monas.” It was then adapted as a standard of measure in the early 18th century.


1.The word “quantity” is used to describe a large amount or number of something while the word “unit” is also used to describe a number of things.
2.“Quantity” is used when referring to an indefinite number while “unit” is used when referring to a definite number of things.
3.“Quantity” is used to refer to uncountable items while “unit” is used to refer to countable items.
4.While “quantity” is used to refer to an estimated number, “unit” is used to refer to an exact number.

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