Have you ever sat down to write and got to a point where you couldn’t remember how to spell a lot. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you know you’ve seen it written two different ways. Which way is correct? “Alot,” believe it or not, is not an actual word. Instead, it is a typical writing error made by people every day. These two can be confusing, especially if your eight grade teacher never bothered to correct your error while allowing you to go on in life with the mistake becoming a part of your writing.
“Alot” vs. “A Lot”
A lot is simply the noun “lot” plus the indefinite article “a” in front of it. For instance, “a bird” is similar in style; however, we don’t write it as “abird.” It’s quite curious as to why people put these two individual words together. One reason could be due to the presence of the unrelated verb allot. Allot or allotment means to give someone a portion of something like an inheritance. Perhaps it could be because we often don’t use the term lot by itself away from the article. We might use it in the plural form; for example, there are lots of animals in the zoo. Here the word lots is being used to mean the same as a lot, just without the indefinite article. Lots and a lot mean the same thing. Lots are just an informal way to say a lot. A lot means a great deal of something or occurring often. For example, you have a lot of eggs this morning, or you jump around a lot.
Understanding “A Lot” and How to Remember the Difference
Now you know that “a lot” is two separate words. The question then is how do you remember which way to write it as you’ve already formed a bad habit of putting the two words together as one. Try doing this, since you can’t write the words “alittle” then you can’t write the words “a lot.” It’s the same premise. Because one is false, the other must also be false.
Examples of “A Lot”
Remember, a lot means a large number or something occurring frequently.
A Large Number
1.There are a lot of can foods at the store.
2.There are a lot of cars in the parking lot.
- I have a lot of chairs around my table.
You want to note that you will find the word “of” and a noun after each instance of a lot when referring to a large number.
Occurring Frequently or Often
In this instance, a lot describes or modifies the verb that comes before it.
1.I read a lot.
2.I dance a lot.
- I laugh a lot.
In each of these instances, a lot means occurring frequently or often. Another way to use a lot is to add the word “whole” between the two terms. For example, you might write, I have a whole lot of candy, or you sure can play a whole lot. Putting whole between a and lot means an even more significant amount or a greater frequency. In other words, by including “whole,” it emphasizes what you are trying to express.
“A Lot” vs. “Allot”
Another commonly confused word is “allot.” “Allot” is a real word that means to 1) to divide or distribute by share or portion; distribute or parcel out; apportion, or 2) to appropriate for a special purpose. Many people assume that “alot” must be correctly spelled when in reality they are incorrectly spelling “allot” and likely using the word in the wrong context.
As we close, remember that a lot is two separate words. Since you cannot say “abag,” you cannot say “alot.” the correct way to write the term is separated. To write “alot” is always incorrect. Make your English teacher proud and keep the two terms separate.