Word Confusion: A Lot vs Alot vs Allot

Posted October 6, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 13 October 2017

The primary confusion is between a lot and alot, and since allot sounds so similar, I thought I’d toss it in. Just for fun. Part of my allotment of words, if you will *grin*.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to set aside the former confusion — there is no ALOT. Doesn’t exist. It’s a misspelling. Toss that puppy out. In fact, go into your Preferences and set up an automatic fix to change any typed alot into an a lot. Problem solved. Dang, don’t’cha wish all of life was that easy to fix?

Now, looking at a lot versus allot, there’s really not much confusion there. For one, I almost never see this in fiction. Yay!! If you do decide this is the perfect word to use, remember that it essentially means to set aside.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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A Lot Alot Allot
Credit to: Dictionary.com a lot and allot

“Log Piles by the River Snizort” by John Allan is under the CC-BY-SA-2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

A lot of logs piled by the River Snizort.

No
A strip of land is allotted for the dike

“Wooton Marsh” by Richard Humphrey is under the CC-BY-SA-2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

At Wooton Marsh, land has been allotted for the dike.

Part of Grammar:
Adverb + Noun A misspelling of a lot Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: allots
Past tense or past participle: allotted
Gerund or present participle: allotting

Very many

  • A large number
  • Very much

It is sometimes put as a whole lot for greater emphasis

Used to emphasize a comparative indication of amount

To divide or distribute by share or portion

  • Distribute or parcel out
  • Apportion

To appropriate for a special purpose

To assign as a portion

  • Set apart
  • Dedicate
Examples:
A lot of people think the economy is declining.

Sad movies always made her cry a lot.

I learned a whole lot in his class.

We need a whole lot more pizza to feed everyone.

Mary had a lot less nerve than I expected.

The government will have to allot the available farmland among the settlers.

We always allot more money for the park.

If we could allot more time to research, we would end up saving time.

We must allot enough parking spaces for all the residents.

Equal time was allotted to each.

I was allotted a little room in the servants’ block.

Derivatives:
Adjective: allottable
Noun: allotter
Verb, transitive: misallot, misallotted, misallotting, preallot, preallotted, preallotting, reallot, reallotted, reallotting
History of the Word:
First known use: early 1800s First known use: 1425-75

Earlier alot from the late Middle English alotten from the Middle French aloter, which is from a- (and the Latin ad-) + lot of Germanic origin and akin to Old English hlot for lot.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Slotermeer Garden Suburb by Het Nieuwe Instituut – Architecture Collection has no restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons.

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