As I was typing today at the office I once again wrote a sentence with the word alot, as in “He has alot of books”. I looked at it and knew it was wrong, and began to change it to allot, but hesitated. Which was right? I was about ready to call my dear wife (who would know) and then realized I could save myself the embarrassment (if she doesn’t read this post) by just searching on Google.
I, of course, found out that neither was correct.
Allot is a verb that means to distribute, to assign a portion, or to divide.
Example: The instructor allotted me 20 minutes to take the test.
Example: They allotted six square feet per family.
Alot means nothing because it is not a word in the English language and therefore should not to be used.
A lot (two words) is an informal phrase meaning a large portion or large quantity of something. According to what I read it is proper to use “a lot” when describing non-countable quantities such as water, sand, ice, or time. The word “many” should be used when describing countable items such as hours, people, or books. I doubt I will be able to change my usage, “He has many books” does not carry the same meaning to me as “He has a lot of books”.
Example: A lot of water has passed under the bridge.
Example: I don’t have a lot of time to make amends.
Luckily I have a ‘search and replace’ plugin installed on this website and so was able to search for the two dozen occurrences of “allot” and “alot” on the various pages and replace them all with “a lot”. Now to see if I can put this in my mental rolodex of words I consistently misspell and must watch for.