Why am I asking

During the review of the translation of a software, in the context on an invoice, from English into Spanish I was puzzled by the translation of amount by the use of cantidad from the translator (which he most probably translated right), since I always thought an amount of money was translated as importe.

Do note that I am not a native English Speaker.

My research

According to Collins dictionary the translation for Amount of money is :

  1. (= sum of money) "cantidad f", "suma f" " ⇒ a large amount of money" "una gran cantidad or suma de dinero"

  2. (= total value) "valor m" a bill for the amount of "una cuenta por importe or valor de"

However the translation of Importe seems to be more related to a strict amount of money :

  1. (= valor)

    a. [de compra, gastos, cheque] "amount"

[...]

  1. (= coste) "cost"

Linguee translations for Amount of an invoice leans toward importe but for Amount of money towards cantidad .

My question

From what I read, I think cantidad is more a general word for amounts regardless of their types but that importe is a more specific term, but I could be wrong.

As a translation has more intricacies than plainly looking for words in a dictionary, I wanted to understand if I could use both as their meaning seem to be close.

up vote 9 down vote accepted

While "Cantidad" is referring to any quantity, not just money, "Importe" is the amount of money a thing is worth.

So for your translation Importe is the more correct, being that you are talking about money, but Cantidad is equally correct to emphasize the concept you want to conceal.

In short: Both words have similar meanings, but Importe is about money and Cantidad is any quantity.

From RAE:

Importe

De importar.

  1. m. Cuantía de un precio, crédito, deuda o saldo.

Cantidad

Del lat. quantĭtas, -ātis, y este calco del gr. ποσότης posótēs.

  1. f. Porción de una magnitud.

  2. f. Cierto número de unidades.

  • 2
    Also, in domain specific accounting parlance (accountantese?) Cantidades are raw transaction values, sumas refer to working subtotals and importes refer to higher order totals. Importe total Is the final sum of a statement. Importe final or balance final, are the ending balances of a running total. – hlecuanda May 3 '17 at 18:08
  • @hlecuanda - This looks like an answer to me. Comments are ephemeral, answers are more stable. – aparente001 May 4 '17 at 4:44

Basta con consultar el DRAE. Un importe (de importar: valer cierta cantidad, costar cierta cantidad) es a cuanto llega un precio, un saldo, una deuda, un crétido, etcétera. Y una cantidad es una cantidad, de lo que sea, pero también significa «Porción indeterminada de dinero».

  • Tengo una buena cantidad de manzanas.
  • Obtuvo una buena cantidad con la venta de su apartamento.
  • Esa muchacha tiene cantidad de admiradores. (i.e. tiene muchos admiradores)
  • El importe por los gastos en mantenimiento sobrepasa nuestro presupuesto.
  • El importe había ido creciendo día a día, y a fin de mes llegó a 10 000 dólares
  • Con esta cantidad podré terminar mis estudios.
  • ¡La cantidad de mentiras que tuve que decirle a esa muchacha!

En ocasiones algunas personas usan la palabra «monto» para decir «importe», porque «monto» es la suma de varias partidas o cantidades parciales.

  • ¿Cuál es el monto total?
  • No hemos precisado el monto por temor a quedarnos cortos.

Sé que los ejemplos no son muy elaborados, pero aclaran en algo las diferencias.

In addition to the previous answers, and following advise to include this as an answer rather than a comment:

In domain specific accounting parlance (accountantese?), Araising from the need to distinguish different levels of sums and working subtotals in accounting worksheets

  • Cantidades are raw transaction values
  • Sumas refer to working subtotals
  • Importes refer to higher order totals, as related to particular accounts (Importe de costos de mercancía, importe de costos operativos, etc)
  • Balances are the final figures in a financial statement (Balance financiero) indicating either profit or loss in a P&L statement or Balance sheet.
  • Posición Is also a figure in accounting documents, however this term refers to an investment as related to equity or vested interest in futures.

Also:

  • Importe total Is the final sum of a statement.
  • Importe final or balance final, are the ending balances of a running total.

Importe also commonly refers to the face value of a single financial instrument such as a check, stock certificates​, pagarés (I.O.Us) or government bonds, independent of their actual values, while Importe total Is the sum of the face values of a group of such documents, again, independently of the actual value of such a group, which is rather unsurprisingly called valor actual

However be aware that this may vary regionally according to generally accepted accounting practices.

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