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a lot of , lots of ?

     
     

Question

: When do I use "a lot of ..." and "lots of ..."? Are there any rules in usage?

 

   

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Casiopea

( English teacher )

 

a lot of and lots of , which carry the same basic meaning: a great deal of, are colloquial (i.e., informal) but nonetheless Standard and acceptable. lots of is considered more informal than lots of.

There's no rule on usage: Both a lot of and lots of are used with plural count nouns and non-count nouns, like this,

Plural Count Noun
There are a lot of books in your bag. (OK)
There are lots of books in you bag. (OK)

Non-Count Noun
There is a lot of milk left in your glass. (OK)
There is lots of milk left in your glass. (OK)

In terms of grammar, the verb agrees in number with the noun: if the noun is plural then the verb is plural,

A lot of books were left on the table.
Lots of books were left on the table.

if the noun is not plural, then the verb is not plural,

A lot of milk was left on the table.
Lots of milk was left on the table.

In academic writing, the more formal 'a great deal of' or 'many', with plural count nouns, and 'a great deal of' or 'much', with non-count nouns are used:

Plural Count Noun
There are a great deal of books in your bag.
A great deal of books are in your bag.

Non-Count Noun
There is a great deal of milk left in your glass.
A great deal of milk is left in your glass.

In terms of meaning, speakers tend not to make a distinction between a lot of and lots of; both refer to a great quantity. But, for some speakers, lots of tends to mean, more than a lot of (i.e., a greater quantity).
 

     
 
 
 

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