Mistake No. 41: Do I like it? Not alot

I’m a reasonable man. Pay taxes. Smile at checkout lady. Drop coins in charity boxes. Hold door open for elderlies. Buy my rounds. Check, check, check, check, and check.

So why, when I’m presented with the following, do I get the fleeting urge to thumb out my eyeballs and stir fry them over a fierce heat?

a/ ‘alot’
b/ ‘abit’
c/ ‘aswell’

Mostly it’s alot, of course – I see a lot of alots – but there’s also quite a bit of abit going on among aspiring writers, and far too much aswell as well.

Look, don’t feel foolish if you’re guilty of one or more of the above, for I’ve known some highly intelligent ‘alotters’, at least, in my time. But I can’t help wondering why I see these specific errors so often – and I don’t see illicit liaisons between the indefinite article and other words (alittle, afraction, atutorwhoislosinghismarbles) or other inappropriate combinations with ‘as’ (asever, asalways, asmadasahatter).

Might it be because a little word like ‘abit’ just looks, you know, cuter than ‘a bit’? Or because we appear to have all-righted ‘alright’ so – what the hell – the Germans do it all the time – let’s jam a few more words together? Do these mistakes endure because even those who get them right don’t bother to correct those who get them wrong – perhaps for fear of being accused of pedantry since, you know, it's only a missing space – and that’s left many with the false assumption that either version is acceptable?

Don’t know. Maybe one day abitting, alotting and aswelling will be allowed and perfectly alright, but for now they’re… alwrong. Sorry.

My tip? Word’s Autocorrect function (find it under Tools). Mine came with the alot-to-a-lot correction already entered (which irked mildly during the preparation of this post), but you can enter your other personal misdemeanours and they’ll be corrected as you type. (Autocorrect is dead handy for touch-typing mistakes you regularly make too.)

Further, if this post has made you a bit insecure about your general one-word-or-two-word understanding, then Mistake No. 23 might be of interest as well.

And once you’ve read that, I would recommend you take your leave from me and point your browser towards this post on the Hyperbole and a Half blog, which I tweeted some months ago, but which you may have missed if you don’t follow me on Twitter (which you probably should at least consider joining, a point well made a few days ago by my colleague Simon Whaley here, and which I’ll doubtless address one day soon).

It’s very funny, and if enough of us click, and if enough of us ask nicely, perhaps Allie Brosh will come up with zoological examples of the abit and the aswell too?

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