# Total vs. Sum: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on September 26, 2023
Total is the whole amount, and sum is the result of adding two or more numbers together.

## Key Differences

Total and sum are mathematical terms often used interchangeably, but they have subtle differences in usage. Total usually refers to the whole amount or quantity in a set or group, considering all components. It is often used as a noun or an adjective, describing a complete aggregate. Sum, on the other hand, typically signifies the result or outcome of adding together two or more numbers, predominantly serving as a noun, and is especially associated with arithmetic operations.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
Total is a versatile word, often used to convey the entire amount or quantity when considering every component or aspect. It may pertain to the aggregate of various elements, presenting a comprehensive view. Sum is more specialized, often used in arithmetic and mathematical contexts, indicating the process of adding together individual numbers to find the aggregate amount. It underscores the arithmetic operation, emphasizing the act of calculation.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
When discussing total, it can be applied in various contexts, not strictly limited to numbers. It may refer to the overall effect, extent, or value of something, considering all parts. For instance, it can be used to describe the total impact or the total area of a region. Sum, conversely, is more bound to numerical contexts, primarily employed to describe the result of addition, focusing on the numeric outcome of the combination of individual elements.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
The word total can also be employed as a verb, depicting the act of calculating the entire amount or quantity of something. In this sense, it involves determining the whole by considering every individual part. Sum, in contrast, remains primarily a noun, denoting the result of the addition process. It represents the outcome of combining numbers but does not typically portray the act of calculating.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
In the broad sense, total gives a sense of completion and wholeness, spanning various contexts and scenarios, and providing a comprehensive view. It encompasses the entirety of components or elements within a set or group. Sum, while similar, has a narrower scope, strictly related to the numerical value obtained from adding individual numbers, highlighting the mathematical aspect and the resulting value.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

## Comparison Chart

### Usage

As a noun, adjective, or a verb, to depict whole amount or the act of calculating the whole amount.
Primarily as a noun, to depict the result of addition.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

### Context

Various contexts, not strictly numerical. Can depict overall effect, extent, or value.
Mostly numerical, representing the result of adding individual numbers.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

### Scope

Broad, conveying the entire amount, quantity, effect, or value considering all components.
Narrower, specifically related to the numerical result of addition.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

### Formality

Can be used both formally and informally.
More formal, mostly used in mathematical or financial contexts.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

### Function

Can represent the aggregate of various elements or the act of determining the whole.
Represents the result of the arithmetic process of addition.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

## Total and Sum Definitions

#### Total

Whole amount of something.
The total of the items purchased was \$200.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

#### Sum

The essence or gist of a matter.
In sum, the findings of the research were inconclusive.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

#### Total

Complete in extent or degree.
The building suffered total destruction.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

#### Sum

An amount obtained as a result of adding numbers.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Calculating the entire amount of something.
We totalled the expenses for the trip.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Sum

An arithmetic problem
A child good at sums.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Inclusive of all that is necessary.
The total cost includes tax and shipping.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Sum

The whole amount, quantity, or number; an aggregate
The sum of the team's combined experience.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

The total for the grocery items was higher than expected.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

#### Sum

An amount of money
Paid an enormous sum.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

An amount obtained by addition; a sum.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A summary
My view of the world, in sum.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

The whole amount of something; the entirety
The storm damaged the total of the housing units.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The central idea or point; the gist.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Of, relating to, or constituting the whole amount; entire
The total population of the city.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Complete; utter; absolute
Total concentration.
A total effort.
A total fool.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

To give a summary of; summarize.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To determine the total of; add up
They totaled the applications at 600.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A quantity obtained by addition or aggregation.
The sum of 3 and 4 is 7.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To equal a total of; amount to
The week's receipts totaled more than \$90,000.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

(often plural) An arithmetic computation, especially one posed to a student as an exercise (not necessarily limited to addition).
We're learning about division, and the sums are tricky.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To wreck completely; demolish
The driver survived the crash but totaled the car.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A quantity of money.
A tidy sum
The sum of forty pounds
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

It totals to \$25.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A summary; the principal points or thoughts when viewed together; the amount; the substance; compendium.
This is the sum of all the evidence in the case.
This is the sum and substance of his objections.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

An amount obtained by the addition of smaller amounts.
A total of £145 was raised by the bring-and-buy stall.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A central idea or point; gist.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Sum.
The total of 4, 5 and 6 is 15.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The utmost degree.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Entire; relating to the whole of something.
The total book is rubbish from start to finish.
The total number of votes cast is 3,270.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

(obsolete) An old English measure of corn equal to the quarter.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

(used as an intensifier) Complete; absolute.
He is a total failure.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The basic unit of money in Kyrgyzstan.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

(mathematics) (of a function) Defined on all possible inputs.
The Ackermann function is one of the simplest and earliest examples of a total computable function that is not primitive recursive.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The basic unit of money in Uzbekistan.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

(transitive) To add up; to calculate the sum of.
When we totalled the takings, we always got a different figure.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A type of administrative district used in China, Mongolia, and Russia. In Mongolia, a sum is smaller than a province. In China, it is only used in Inner Mongolia, where it is equivalent to a township.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To equal a total of; to amount to.
That totals seven times so far.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To demolish; to wreck completely. (from total loss)
Honey, I’m OK, but I’ve totaled the car.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

(transitive) To give a summary of.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

(intransitive) To amount to; to add up to.
It totals nearly a pound.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

Eye dialect of some
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Whole; not divided; entire; full; complete; absolute; as, a total departure from the evidence; a total loss.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

Eye dialect of some
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

The whole; the whole sum or amount; as, these sums added make the grand total of five millions.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The aggregate of two or more numbers, magnitudes, quantities, or particulars; the amount or whole of any number of individuals or particulars added together; as, the sum of 5 and 7 is 12.
Take ye the sum of all the congregation.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To bring to a total; also, to reach as a total; to amount to.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A quantity of money or currency; any amount, indefinitely; as, a sum of money; a small sum, or a large sum.
With a great sum obtained I this freedom.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To determine the total of (a set of numbers); to add; - often used with up; as, to total up the bill.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The principal points or thoughts when viewed together; the amount; the substance; compendium; as, this is the sum of all the evidence in the case; this is the sum and substance of his objections.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

To damage beyond repair; - used especially of vehicles damaged in an accident; as, he skid on an ice patch and totaled his Mercedes against a tree. From total loss.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

Height; completion; utmost degree.
Thus have I told thee all my state, and broughtMy story to the sum of earthly bliss.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

The whole amount
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A problem to be solved, or an example to be wrought out.
A sum in arithmetic wherein a flaw discovered at a particular point is ipso facto fatal to the whole.
A large sheet of paper . . . covered with long sums.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

To bring together into one whole; to collect into one amount; to cast up, as a column of figures; to ascertain the totality of; - usually with up.
The mind doth value every moment, and then the hour doth rather sum up the moments, than divide the day.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Add up in number or quantity;
The bills amounted to \$2,000
The bill came to \$2,000
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

To bring or collect into a small compass; to comprise in a few words; to condense; - usually with up.
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard," in few words sums up the moral of this fable.
He sums their virtues in himself alone.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Determine the sum of;
Add all the people in this town to those of the neighboring town
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

To have (the feathers) full grown; to furnish with complete, or full-grown, plumage.
But feathered soon and fledgeThey summed their pens [wings].
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Constituting the full quantity or extent; complete;
An entire town devastated by an earthquake
Gave full attention
A total failure
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A quantity of money;
He borrowed a large sum
The amount he had in cash was insufficient
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Including everything;
The overall cost
The total amount owed
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Without conditions or limitations;
A total ban
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The final aggregate;
The sum of all our troubles did not equal the misery they suffered
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Total

Complete in extent or degree and in every particular;
A full game
A total eclipse
A total disaster
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience;
The gist of the prosecutor's argument
The heart and soul of the Republican Party
The nub of the story
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

The whole amount
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The basic unit of money in Uzbekistan
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

A set containing all and only the members of two or more given sets;
Let C be the union of the sets A and B
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

Be a summary of;
The abstract summarizes the main ideas in the paper
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

Determine the sum of;
Add all the people in this town to those of the neighboring town
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 27, 2023

#### Sum

The result of adding two or more numbers or amounts.
The sum of 5 and 3 is 8.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Sum

The students solved several sums in the math class.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Sum

An amount of something.
He ate a sum of five apples.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

## FAQs

#### Is the sum only related to addition?

Predominantly yes, sum is primarily used to describe the result of addition.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can total be used as a verb?

Yes, to total can mean to calculate the total amount of something.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is total more formal than sum?

Both have formal uses, but sum is more formal and specific, mostly used in mathematical or financial contexts.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is total strictly a mathematical term?

No, total can be used in various contexts, not limited to mathematical ones.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is sum used as a verb?

It's less common, but sum can be used as a verb meaning to calculate the sum or to summarize.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can sum describe the essence of a matter?

Yes, “in sum” can be used to represent the essence or gist of a matter or argument.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can total describe a condition of being complete in degree or extent?

Yes, total can be used to describe something that is complete in extent or degree, like total destruction.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can total and sum be used interchangeably?

They can be used interchangeably in some contexts relating to aggregation of amounts, but total has broader applications.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can total refer to overall effect or impact?

Yes, total can be used to describe the overall effect, extent, or value of something.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

#### Does the sum always relate to a mathematical problem?

Mostly, but it can also refer to amounts of money or the essence of something.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can the total represent the entirety of components within a set or group?

Yes, total can represent the entire amount or quantity, considering every component or aspect.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is sum used to describe a large amount of money?

Yes, sum can be used to describe a quantity of money, often implying a substantial amount.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is sum only associated with numbers?

Mostly, sum is used to describe the numeric outcome of addition, but it can also refer to the essence or gist of a matter.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

#### Does total always refer to the result of addition?

Not necessarily. While it can refer to a final amount after addition, it can also describe the whole amount or the entire extent of something.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can total be inclusive of all that is necessary?

Yes, total can be inclusive of all components, factors, or amounts that are necessary or relevant.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023