Difference Between ‘a lot of’ and ‘lots of’
What is the difference between ‘a lot of’ and ‘lots of’? Both of these expressions are used in English and have the same meaning. They both mean a large amount of either people or things. For example: “I have a lot of cars in my driveway” means the exact same thing as “I have lots of cars in my driveway.”
A ‘lot’ as used in the expression ‘a lot of’ and ‘lots of’ refers to a unit of something or an amount of units or a parcel that is offered together as one complete unit. This is seen in the use of lot in an auction, for example one could say, “These 4 boxes will be sold together as one lot.” Over the use of this word in the history of the English language it has taken on the meaning of a large amount or quantity, as well as all the members of a particular group. This word can be applied to a group of people, such as “we were a particularly sad looking lot after we lost the game.”
The plural ‘lots’ meaning ‘much’ or ‘many’ has become synonymous with the indefinite article ‘a’ and the word ‘lot’. Both expressions can be used with countable and uncountable nouns. Countable nouns are persons, places or things that could be physically counted. For example: “A lot of dogs like the water.” and “Lots of dogs like the water.” Both are using the expression with countable nouns, since ‘dogs’ is the noun and one could possibly count the number of dogs, even though it is a generalization and not referring to a specific number of dogs. Uncountable nouns, on the other hand, are concepts or something like a substance that cannot be divided to be counted.
For example, ‘water’ cannot be counted. ‘Bottles of water’ could be counted, but not water itself. Although uncountable nouns are usually treated as singular, and the indefinite article ‘a’ is not used with uncountable nouns, ‘a lot’ is used anyway. For example we would not say “A music is very important to me.” However, “A lot of music is very important to me.” is fine to say. It is also acceptable to say “Lots of music is important to me.”
‘Lot’ has also taken on the definition of a degree or an extent more. For example: “She sends a lot of love in her greeting to you.” or “She sends lots of love in her greeting to you.” ‘A lot’ can also mean very often or very much as an adverb. Used this way, it comes at the end of a sentence, but never before a noun. For example: “She goes to the park a lot.” or “I am a lot happier with my new job now.” It is not as common to use ‘lots’, but it may be used informally as ‘lots and lots’ for emphasis, as in “She loves her boyfriend lots and lots”.
The only difference between the two expressions, ‘a lot of’ and ‘lots of’ is the usage. By many English speakers both are considered informal and colloquial, more suited to casual or familiar conversation, rather than written or business English. However, ‘lots of’ is generally considered slightly less acceptable as Standard English and more suited solely to casual conversation.
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