12 December 2007
Graphic from: http://www.temple.edu/writingctr/images/ALot.jpg
One of my co-workers yesterday was telling me how all her life she was taught that a lot was one word when said in reference to a number or an amount of something. A lot, when referring to a property lot, was two separate words, she said. Her teachers taught her this. If you disagreed with the teacher, she said it was wrong without even so much as a lookup in the dictionary. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
When she was trying to explain this to me, she had a hard time believing me that a lot was two words in every case. Yes, I looked it up on Dictionary.com and I was right - ALOT is an acronym for something, there is no word in the English language as alot.
Now I can understand, undoing 30+ years of incorrect grammatical teaching is very difficult. And what of this teacher, teaching for years hordes of school children the wrong thing? It isn't even accepted as an Americanism. Pet Peeve #85 - A lot is two words, not one, in any context.
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