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Should it be win the lottery or win a lottery or just win lottery?

The sentences below sound the same to me. Are they?

I lost $5000 to lottery.

I lost $5000 for lottery.

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closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Jan 8 '13 at 10:24

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Ironically, your question-title needs an article! – Malvolio Aug 6 '11 at 14:55

Win a lottery and win the lottery would both be fine in certain contexts. In the US, many (most?) states have a state lottery with prizes in the millions of dollars. If I, in my home state of California, won the California State Lottery, I'd say, "I won the lottery." On the other hand, if a charitable organization sells numbered tickets and gives prizes to people whose numbers are drawn at random, as a way of raising money, that can be described as a lottery; if my number were drawn and I won $5,000, I could say, "I won it in a lottery."

I should also note, however, that I wouldn't say I won $5,000 "in a lottery;" I'd say I won it "in a raffle." I think it's more common (at least where I come from) to speak of the lottery (a big, state-sponsored drawing for millions of dollars) but a raffle (a drawing for smaller prizes, usually benefiting some sort of charity). Still, if someone said "a lottery," I'd know what they meant and wouldn't be confused.

I've never heard of anyone saying it with no article at all. Nor have I heard anyone saying they lost money "to lottery" or "for lottery." Also, lotteries, as I use the term, generally involve selling tickets for small amounts of money; $1 is common, and the most I've ever seen charged for a raffle ticket was $20. Someone could say, "I lost $5,000 on lottery tickets," but I'd be surprised if it happened all at once. Some people certainly do spend that much on lottery tickets over the course of a year, though.

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In a headline, or posted in a shop window: "Win Lottery" is just fine. "Single Mother of 7 Wins Lottery!"

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I don't think we should be overly concerned with the grammaticality of newspaper headlines. – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '11 at 13:55

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