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Alot or A Lot or Allot?

By Judy Vorfeld

Is there such a word as “alot”? Professor Paul Brians says that this com­mon spelling error may have begun began because there is an English a word spelled “allot” which is a verb mean­ing to appor­tion or grant.

* Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says:

1 : to assign as a share or portion

2 : to dis­trib­ute by or as if by lot

Confusing? Yes. Because, in most for­mal writ­ing, we don’t often encounter “a lot.” Instead, peo­ple use terms like “fre­quently,” “much,” “a great deal,” “often,” etc.

If you can’t remem­ber the rule, Professor B. sug­gests that you remind your­self that just as you wouldn’t write “alit­tle,” you shouldn’t write “alot.”


*By per­mis­sion. From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary at www.m-w.com by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.


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