How do you know when to use a lot and when to use alot instead? The answer is easier than you may think!
When I check out various lists of grammatical pet peeves, references to alot usually appear within the top 10.
I think the confusion over whether to use a lot or alot can be blamed on a third option in which lot appears. More on that in a moment.
First things first.
If you’re one of those who’ve struggled with which word to use and how to tell which means what, I’m about to blow your mind with a solution that will work once and for all. You may want to sit down, because this is going to make your life so much easier, at least where this one word choice is concerned.
How can I promise such a definitive solution? It’s simple: only one of the choices is actually a word.
A lot means a large amount. If I have a lot of money, and I’d love to, then it means there’d be a good deal of cash in the bank with my name on it.
Alot isn’t a word. You may well find it in a dictionary, and you may see that it is defined there as a variation of “a lot.” Fair enough. But if the dictionary is worth the purchase price, it will also list the word as being “nonstandard,” which is a nice, polite way of saying that it isn’t a word.
One of the most famous “nonstandard words” in English is “irregardless.” Anytime anyone uses “irregardless,” they mean regardless. Anytime anyone uses “alot,” they mean a lot.
The confusion over whether it should be one word or two, I think, comes from another legitimate word, which means something completely different: allot, which means to divide a portion of something for someone or something. You’d never say someone has allot of something; you might say that someone was good at allotting his resources.
But if you’re talking about having a large amount of something, then remember that two is a larger amount than one, and the two-word option is the only option to this irritating grammar question!