Posted by: Jodi | September 29, 2010

Grammarland: A Lot, Alot, Allot, and Shallots

Let us return to the mythical oasis of Grammarland where the magic water of words flows in abundance.  Ladies and gentlemen, I confess, I have a bad habit of typing “alot” when I’m not paying attention. No, not a lot of words; the actual word “alot” which I know is wrong.  To help my brain come to grips with that silly fact I shall inflict a grammar lesson on the rest of you.  Tee hee hee, so there.   Let us begin.

A lot, Alot, Allot, (and Shallot).

A lot is used when there are a great number of something, “I bought a lot of chocolate.” It should be avoided in formal writing because it sounds like Forrest Gump.  The term “lot” is also used when speaking of a parcel of land or collection of items.  “Lot G will be sold next in the auction.”

Alot is not a word in the English language so quit using it!

Allot is a verb meaning to assign a portion, distribute, or to divide.  “The writer allotted himself an hour a day to stare out the window.”

Shallot is a member of the onion family but is formed more like garlic, many cooks swear by it to heighten their cooking.  There is also the poem by Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott,” but I doubt he was talking about onions.

Shallots

Lady of Shalott

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Responses

  1. Good one. I’ve had to be careful to avoid “a lot” in fiction, except in dialog of course because people say it all the time. In narration, though, it’s got to be one of the vaguest things you can possibly say. I prefer words like “cartload” and “gaggle” whenever I can get away with them.

    • You actually use gaggle?! Kudos to you. “A lot” is vague and amateur sounding and ends up in my writing far too often for my comfort.

  2. There is a lot of information in this piece.

    In fact, I think you may have exceeded your allotment. 😉

    I’ve typed “alot” a lot. It’s one of those “invisible” nuisances that sneaks in when we’re not paying attention. Maybe if it smelled like a shallot . . .

    • Har de har har. You are so punny. My high school english teacher would freak whenever she saw and “alot” never could figure out why until now. I wasn’t the best English student…

  3. I see “alot” a lot (sorry, couldn’t resist :P). Seriously, though, it’s ubiquitous, particularly in emails, facebook, and the like. It drives me crazy, but then I’ve never been a big fan of “a lot” either- I agree that it’s horribly vague.

    Loved the contrast between shallots and shalotts!

    • It is used all over the place but it was always something that my eye would never catch. Now it stands out everywhere!

  4. i do that ALL the time! It should be a word. lol

    • Me too!

  5. My big language mechanic problem is differentiating between effect and affect. I can’t seem to grasp the different uses of these words.

    • I have a whole list of mini language usage issues, that one included, to tackle. Another is lay and lie – can’t ever get it right!

  6. Timely! I’ve been catching myself using that word a lot too… and I always write it as “alot”. Perfect post. I am discovering the words I use too much and how I might vary them, so thanks.

    • I have to stop myself every time I write it and think, “do I really want to do that?” Thankfully, most of the time I don’t!

  7. […] (Affect vs. Effect) * Grammar Rules (Affect vs. Effect) * Affect and Effect * Affect/Effect * Grammarland: A Lot, Alot, Allot (and Shallot) (My Literary […]


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