A lot vs. allot

  angbeenc  —  Grammar Tips

Karl needed a lot of time for the job.

He allotted three breaks a day to everyone in the department.

A lot, alot, and allot only differ by a few spaces or letters. However, all of the terms function differently. Let’s investigate how to use each one. There is often confusion over alot, a lot and allot. The most common mistake involving these words is writing alot instead of a lot. Remember, the word alot does not exist (unless you mean the Indian town of Alot). Alot ought to be two words; i.e., it is a misspelling of a lot.


Lot originated from Old English hlot (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lot, German Los . The original meanings were sense 3 of the noun and (by extension) the sense ‘a portion assigned to someone’; the latter gave rise to the other noun senses. The pronoun and adverb uses date from the early 19th century. Allot originated from late 15th century: from Old French aloter, from a- (from Latin ad ‘to’) + loter ‘divide into lots’.

A lot as pronoun/adverb:

A lot is an adverb which means a large number or amount; a great deal.

There are a lot of actors in the cast.

You just drank a lot of milk with dinner.

Allot as verb:

Allot is used as a verb which means to give or apportion (something) to someone. It has synonyms like allocate, assign, issue, award, grant or administer etc.

Equal time was allotted to each of the candidate.

Will you please allot me my share of the inheritance?

A lot or allot:

It’s important to keep track of these two words in your writing because alot vs. a lot are very different. Alot is not a word. A lot is the correct choice. 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 these acow, acloud, and aburrito. Why a lot is so often compounded into alot is an interesting linguistic mystery. It may have something to do with the existence of the unrelated adjective allot, or it could be because lot in this sense is not common outside this phrase (though the plural, lots, is also common in a nearly identical use). Now that we know a lot is the correct choice for our sentences, here are a few tricks to remember this fact. Something my grade school English teacher would say to help us remember is, a lot is a lot of words.

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