Why Alot Is Not a Word
I am a proud card-carrying member of the Grammar Nerd Society. I’m the president and the sole member, but hey, I still wear it proudly. So, when I saw this meme floating around Pinterest and Facebook that had to do with the proper form of a lot, I was rattled a bit that writers were trying to make excuses for why alot can be substituted for the two-word correct and only usage.
In case you didn’t know, there’s a big problem with putting a and lot together. This was the meaning of the meme which stated, “You don’t write alittle, abunch, acantalope, aporkchop. So you don’t write alot.” Still, people tried to argue the point. “Oh, it’s coming into usage. It’s quite acceptable.”
I think not. You see, alot is not an adverb. Like the truth the examples bring home in the meme, a lot consists of an indefinite article and a noun. The only way to turn alot into another part of speech is to make it a verb: allot. You do, however, need that extra “l” to make it work.
Now, if you want to talk about awhile versus a while then you have a point—if you understand that they do not convey the same meaning and that they are written differently for a very good reason. Awhile is an adverb. A while is the same as a lot in that it is an indefinite article followed by a noun. Here’s a quick way to tell what part of speech and what form the word(s) should take. If you can easily exchange while for a noun the correct usage is two words: We will go in a while (a day). If you can exchange awhile for an adverb, the correct usage is one word: We will go away awhile (quickly).
The moral of this post: don’t make your own rules. Look up the reason why something is written the way it is written and decide, based on the rules of grammar, if something is truly correct.
President of the Grammar Nerd Society
Fay Lamb (The Tactical Editor) is an author, editor, and writing coach, who loves to work with authors to help them meet their goals.
Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.
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