A Lot vs. Alot – Difference & Meaning

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

In an age where you are supposed to learn how to express yourself in 160 characters or less, it’s no surprise that many words end up shortened or combined to help meet these parameters.

Unfortunately, this also means that these abbreviations and misspellings make their way into other forms of written communication and can create confusion at best or misunderstandings at worst.

“A lot” vs. “alot” is the perfect example of this. One is a two-word phrase, and the other isn’t a word at all. But it is used in shorthand, informal writing scenarios – such as social media posts.

Let’s take a look at “a lot” and “alot” so you can better understand why you need to know the difference if you want your reader to understand what you are trying to portray.

What Is the Difference Between A Lot and Alot?

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A lot is like any two-word phrase with the indefinite article (a) followed by a noun (lot). For instance, a cow, a cloud, and a burrito are similarly constructed phrases, but no one would write acow, acloud, and aburrito.

Lot is defined as “a great deal, large number or amount of something.”

For example:

  • He carries a lot of books across campus each day to class.
  • I had a lot of water to drink, and now I needed a restroom stop.
  • The students had a lot of time to complete their finals.

Why a lot is so often compounded into alot is an interesting linguistic mystery. As suggested above, it is likely due to the combination of words and phrases to create shorthand options for social media.

The ngram below graphs the use of a lot and alot in a large number of texts published between 1800 and 2019. As you can see, alot (the red line) does not pass through the editorial process.

A lot vs. Alot Ngram
A lot and alot usage trend.

Should You Use Alot in Writing?

The short answer to this question is NO! Do not use alot in your writing. It is not a word and, even when used in an informal text, looks out of place and can cause confusion. There is no meaning to this non-word.

Examples of “a Lot” in a Sentence

If you need examples of how to properly use the phrase a lot in sentences, these examples can help you ensure you use the correct form each and every time.

  • As the head of the department, Sarah McMillan worries a lot about how to secure funding for supply each year.
  • There has been a lot happening with our school this academic season.
  • It’s a lot easier to understand once you see it in person.
  • She had a lot of work to complete over her winter vacation if she planned on passing the class.

Let’s Review

A lot is a phrase made up of an indefinite article and a noun. It means there is a great deal of something. Alot isn’t a word. It most likely became popular due to the popular practice of abbreviating and combining words in social media commenting and posting.

Using alot in writing can create confusion and should be avoided.

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