A lot versus alot versus allot

Sometimes, words and phrases that sound the same are mixed up when writing them down. Here, we look at a non-standard form that could also be a misspelling of another word.

A lot versus alot

A non-standard word common across the internet is alot instead of a lot. Here are some examples (emphasis added in each case):

  1. Answer to a frequently asked question on a sporting media website:

    Unfortunately, we don’t offer free trials, because people abused this alot.

    Iptv at Iptv FAQ’s

  2. Description of a new wooden climbing unit:

    This is a mixed grade circuit with wooden holds both for hands and feet. It’s a good skin friendly circuit after those grit days! Approximately V2-7 there’s alot of variety within the circuit and lots of cool natural holds.

    The Climbing Unit at https://theclimbingunit.com/2021/11/new-wood-circuit/ on 25 November 2021

  3. Description of a storage box (original emphasis retained):

    This holds ALOT of chocolate but is also perfect as a storage box in your craft space.

    mixedupcraft at https://mixedupcraft.com/2021/12/03/4-drawer-flip-lid-storage-or-selection-box/ on 3 December 2021

In each example, alot should be replaced by a lot to form a standard construction:

  1. Unfortunately, we don’t offer free trials because people abused them a lot.
  2. This is a mixed-grade circuit with wooden holds for both hands and feet. It’s a good skin-friendly circuit for after those grit days! Approximately V2-7, there’s a lot of variety within the circuit, and it has lots of cool natural holds.
  3. This holds a lot of chocolate, but it is also perfect as a storage box in your craft space.

Compare the older form alright (adverb < all right), now obsolete, which meant right.adv.

A lot is the indefinite article followed by a noun, and can often be replaced by lots: a lot of trees is equivalent to lots of trees. Alot occurs when it is thought that A lot is one word, possibly by analogy with words like awhile (adverb < a while < áne hwíle), away (adverb, adjective, noun < on way) and alright (adverb < all right).

Remember that if you are writing a formal text or want to appear authorative or educated, it’s best to use standard English. That way, your readers don’t get distracted by how you’ve written your message, and they can focus on the content of your message instead.

If the word really was alot, then the 1980s UK milk adverts on TV would have had the slogan Got alotta bottle instead of Gotta lotta bottle (i.e. got a lot of bottle has a lot of nerve/bravado), which doesn’t have the same ring to it at all.

If you still need help to remember to use a lot instead of alot, take a look at Hyperbole and Half‘s article The Alot is better than you at everything (try not to get sucked in to the rest of the site or it’ll be teatime before you know it, and you won’t have got anything done).

A lot/alot versus allot

Allot is a different word altogether. It is a verb meaning to give or assign something to someone:

  1. The boss allotted several tasks to each member of staff.
  2. Fate had allotted him another good year.
  3. Each player is allotted twelve pieces, which they must arrange on the board on alternating squares.

Conclusion

Avoid alot in writing: it is either a non-standard form of a lot or a misspelling of allot.

If you insist on using alot, your writing will be the opposite of enhanced. Your readers may take you less seriously, and they may not take note of the point you’re trying to make. This is true whether you’re writing an email at work, a short story or a comment on a blog.

Source

Definitions and etymologies are from the Oxford English Dictionary.