Alot vs. A Lot vs. Allot

A lot vs. AllotLet’s say you’re typing a paper and you get to a point where you write “alot.” A little red squiggle appears underneath so that you know it’s spelled incorrectly, but what will you choose–a lot or allot? This Grammar Quick Fix will teach you the difference between these three “words.”

Alot

Believe it or not, alot is not a word. It’s commonly confused as a word because it’s similar to allot or a lot. The word you will want to choose depends on what you’re discussing.

A lot

This is what most people mean when they type alot. A lot is basically an informal way of identifying a “large quantity” of something. If I say, “I have a lot of books,” you’ll know that I don’t have just a couple books–I have several. This is the “slang form” of the word though. A more appropriate usage is when you’re trying to measure an uncountable noun, like water or poetry. “There was a lot of water in the pool.” The former form is permissible in basic conversation, but should be avoided

Allot

This is a completely different word altogether. Allot means to “distribute” and is a verb. For example: “I alloted the raffle tickets to the students.” This word doesn’t have a “slang form,” unlike a lot.

In sum

Alot isn’t a word. A lot functions as an adjective, and allot is a verb. If you’re not sure what you should use, ask yourself if you’re looking to put a verb or an adjective in your sentence. Good luck!

Posted in Grammar Quick Fix.

9 Comments

  1. This is a wonderful site, thanks for making it available.
    I noticed in the first sentence of this page that “right” was used when I think you may have meant to say “write”.
    Am I right?
    I hope you don’t think I am playing GOTCHA, just trying to help.
    Craig

    • Indeed you are correct! And don’t worry, I’ve been corrected before. Unfortunately, sometimes you can read something over and over and not catch an error like that. Thanks again, and thank you for your kind remarks!

  2. Indeed–“Distrubute” should be “Distribute.” Thanks for pointing out the typo! 😀

  3. Interesting article and one which should be more widely known about in my view. Your level of detail is good and the clarity of writing is excellent. I have bookmarked it for you so that others will be able to see what you have to say.

  4. I beg to differ. I believe my 6th grade Language Arts teacher would too! She taught us that a lot was a small piece of land and alot meant quite a bit/few. Did things change in the last 35 years that I missed out on?

    I’m just sayin’…

    • Perhaps they have! “Alot” is non-standard and not in the Oxford English Dictionary (the dictionary typically classified as the “go-to” for the English language). Yes, “a lot” can certainly be a piece of land, but it also means–as you mentioned–quite a bit.

      It’s also a possibility that your 6th grade teacher was incorrect or you misunderstood her.

      I’m just saying… 😉

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