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a lot of, lots of

When do we use a lot of and when lots of?

These phrases are mainly used in informal English – lots of sounds slightly more informal than a lot of. There is not much difference between them both forms are used in singular uncountable and plural nouns.

It is the subject and not the phrase a lot of or lots of which determines whether the following verb is singular or plural. So, if a plural subject is used – books – the verbs is plural and if a singular subject is used – money – then the verb is singular.

1. Informal English

Singular

  • A lot of money is needed to live in London.
  • Lots of money is needed to live in London.

Plural

  • A lot of books are needed in schools.
  • Lots of books are needed in schools.

2. Formal English

In formal English we use plenty of or much and many instead of a lot of/lots of.

Singular

  • Plenty of money is needed to live in London.
  • Much money is needed to live in London.

Plural

  • Plenty of books are needed in schools.
  • Many books are needed in schools.

3. Other Possibilities

There are other quantifiers that can be used, but they are divided between plural and singular.

Singular and Plural:

  • a large amount of money is needed to live in London.
  • a great deal of money is needed to live in London.
  • a large amount of books are needed in schools.
  • a great deal of books are needed in schools.

Plural:

  • a large number of books are needed in schools.
  • a large number of money are needed to live in London.