# Can 人口 be interpreted as a number?

I was just in my iTalki class, and it seems I've been making an error for years whereby I refer to 人口 as 大/小 instead of 多/少 (which came up in this question, so it's seems I'm not the only one making this error). I think my error arose because I think of 人口 as a number, so I might think of something like the following (the numbers are approximate for simplicity):

Beijing's population is 20 million. Suzhou's population is 10 million. 20 million is more than 10 million, so Beijing's population is greater than Suzhou's population.

Okay, I now know to use 多/少 to compare 人口, so the second 大于 above should be 多于. But I feel like people say things like 北京的人口是两千万 with or without adding a 人 (or 个人), e.g.:

And if 人口 is a number, then numbers are compared with 大/小 and not 多/少. Maybe there's sometimes a phantom 人 in these examples: it functions as if it's there, but it's omitted.

Question: Can 人口 be interpreted as a number?

• It seems to me that 人口 is a quantity with a(n omitted) unit, 人. Compare 北京的人口是两千万人 with "the temperature of boiling water is 100 degrees Celsius." And we speak of a higher temperature, not a bigger temperature.
– LAMC
Jan 25 at 14:42

You can see population (人口) as a 数字/数目 or a 数量

1000 is a 数字; 1000人 is a 数量

• the classifier 人 can be omitted in 人口数量 because it is strongly implied

• the classifier 人 is not grammatical to use in 人口數目 because we don't count 数字/数目 as how many but now big

My conclusion: