action of finding the number of elements of a finite set of objects

Counting is something people do to find out how many things there are of any kind.

One way to count change

The person counting in English usually starts with the number one, and gives this number to the first thing. The next thing is given the number two. Then, the next thing is given the number three. If there is another thing, it gets the number four. If after this there is another thing, it gets the number five. More things get more numbers. Each thing gets its own number in this way. The last number given to the last thing counted shows how many things there are.

Examples change

  • For example, to find out the number of hats in a group, a person counts the hats. The person gives a number to each hat.
John has a black hat, a brown hat and a blue hat. Mary asks John, "How many hats do you have?". John gives the number 1 to the black hat. John gives the number 2 to the brown hat. John gives the number 3 to the blue hat. Now John has no more hats. The biggest number John gave was three, and each hat has a number. John tells Mary, "I have three hats". John has counted the hats.
  • There are the letters A, Q, L, and S on a piece of paper. How many letters are there on the piece of paper?
Tom gives numbers to the letters. The letter A gets the number 1. The letter Q gets the number 2. The letter L gets the number 3. The letter S gets the number 4. There are no more letters to count. There are 4 letters on the piece of paper.

More counting change

Counting is starting at a number and changing it up or down a certain number of times. In the examples above, counting started at one and then it changed by one each time something was counted. So at first the count was one. Then the count was changed by one, and one plus one is two, so the count was two. Then the count of two was changed by one again, and two plus one is three, so the count was three.

Counting can go up or down. Counting can be done on fingers.

More about counting change

It has been shown that some birds are good at counting. Crows are birds that are good at counting.