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A Lot vs. Alot vs. Allot

Updated on
October 7, 2022
Writing Tips
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The English language is teeming with idiosyncrasies that can cause confusion, including differentiating between a lot, alot, and allot. Though these words all sound the same, a lot and allot mean totally different things. 

We’ll make sense of the proper uses of a lot and allot below, but to be clear, alot is a misspelling. A lot should always include a space between the indefinite article a and the noun lot.  

To better understand how these words function differently, as well as how they should be used in writing, let’s investigate the best use of each one.

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What does a lot mean?

The definition of a lot is “a large quantity of something” or “very much.” Having not one, not two, but a lot of apples in your grocery basket will evoke a picture of an abundance of fruit, such as 10 or 20 apples. 

The phrase a lot can be used as two different parts of speech. As an adverb, a lot often means “frequently” or “by a great degree,” like in this sentence: She plays basketball a lot with her friends in the summer. As a pronoun (or part of a noun phrase), a lot usually means “a large amount”—for example, It takes a lot of time to learn a new language.

Again, it’s common to see the phrase misspelled as alot, especially in informal communications like text messages or emails, but this is considered a mistake. The stand-alone “a” in a lot serves its own purpose as an indefinite article, just like in this sentence: I read a dozen books over fall break

A lot also has a plural form that drops the indefinite article entirely: lots. Known to grammar experts as a quantifier, lots tends to be used in informal speech or writing, such as in this sentence: Lots of people enjoy going out to dinner. 

Synonyms of a lot 

Some common synonyms of a lot, which are all variations of “a large quantity,” include these:

  • plenty
  • numerous
  • ample
  • much
  • an abundance
  • a good or great deal
  • a large amount or number
  • a heap
  • a bunch
  • a plethora

What does allot mean?

The definition of allot is “to apportion by shares” or “to set aside for a specific purpose.” If you’ve ever had a jar for spare change that you intended to use toward a special treat, this is an example of allotting money with a specific intention in mind. 

To allot means to deliberately separate something from a group of similar items. The verb is also used when assigning part of a task to an individual or several people; for example, Courtney allotted the remaining party-planning tasks to her daughter-in-law.

Often, you will see the word allot when someone is talking about time or money: I am allotting myself one hour each day to focus on weeding the garden, or I allotted a portion of each paycheck to a local charity.

Synonyms of allot

Some of the most popular synonyms of allot include these:

  • appoint
  • apportion
  • earmark
  • set aside
  • assign
  • distribute
  • allocate
  • designate

Examples of a lot and allot used in a sentence

Here are examples of each term used properly in a sentence:

  • A lot examples:
    • The students have a lot of work to do before the pep rally.
    • I have only one favorite movie, but my partner has a lot.
    • There is a lot to know when it comes to filing taxes.
  • Allot examples:
    • Each speaker was allotted 15 minutes to share the summaries of their projects.
    • It’s important to allot funds to the renovation in advance, so the home is ready for resale by spring. 
    • The tech startup allotted half of its marketing budget to podcast advertisements.

A lot vs. alot vs. allot FAQs

What is the difference between a lot and allot?

The two terms sound the same but have different spellings. A lot is spelled as two words, and allot has an additional “l.” Their meanings differ as well. A lot is an adverb or pronoun that means “a large quantity,” while allot is a verb that means “to set aside for a specific purpose.” Alot is a misspelling of a lot.

What are some examples of how a lot and allot are used in sentences?

Here is an example of how to use a lot in a sentence: There were a lot of people at the beach that day. 

Here is an example of how to use allot in a sentence: I allotted time in the morning for a workout so that I didn’t have to worry about exercising after work. 

And just for fun, here is an example of both terms being used in the same sentence: Remember to allot a lot of time to finding parking in the public lot.

When should you use a lot vs. allot

Whenever you refer to a large amount of something, it is appropriate to use a lot. Use allot whenever you’re assigning or designating part of a task, a responsibility, or an object to a specific person or group. Allot is commonly used when talking about time or money, both of which can be apportioned.

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