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Is it correct to say "there are a lot of aspects" like here (see the first comment) or here?

Shouldn't be "lots of" used instead? I was sure that the correct form is "lots of" for the plural form.

  • Why? Plural subjects take plural verbs. – tchrist Jul 20 '14 at 22:57
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    What would make something 'correct' or 'incorrect'? – nohat Jul 20 '14 at 22:58
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    There's a hugely related question in the "Related" sidebar. – Andrew Leach Jul 20 '14 at 22:59
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    @tchrist, I was sure the correct form is "lots of" for the plural form. – less.wrong Jul 20 '14 at 23:02
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    @nohat Agreed that terms like ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ are of course inapplicable in a linguistic context. The issue though is that ESL students get things marked right or wrong on their exams, and they want to know why. – tchrist Jul 20 '14 at 23:16
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A lot of things means a large number (plural) of things, hence you will use a plural noun (unless the noun is uncountable, then singular). A lot of apples, a lot of chairs, a lot of questions, (but a lot of water, a lot of sand).

Lots is just the plural form of lot. And so more than one set of a large number of things is, well, still a large number of things (and thereby plural), so you still need a plural noun (same exception for uncountables). Lots of apples, lots of chairs, lots of questions, (but lots of water, lots of sand).

They will both generally agree in the plural, although when the focus on a group as a single unit, the singular agreement is possible.

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The source that the questioner links actually says

There's a lot of aspects of being in power that seem "unfair."

The writer has apparently chosen the singular 's (is) to agree with lot. That makes a certain amount of sense, but “a lot of” followed by a countable noun in the plural has come to be most often used as if it were many, and we would say “There are many aspects . . .”—so likewise most English speakers and writers use “There are a lot of . . . .” Note how this NGram shows “there are a lot of” as more frequent than “there is a lot of” even though many instances of the latter must be with non-count nouns, as in “there is a lot of resentment on both sides.”

P.S.: In response to revision of question, I have revised my NGram link to show “there are lots of” running third in popularity.

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    You don’t ever try to match the number of a lot/bunch/handful of before a noun; those are decoys. The actual grammatical number of the verb agrees with the noun which that phase modifies. But I think the OP somehow thinks that lots of is used with plural nouns but a lot of with singular ones, which is not true of course. – tchrist Jul 20 '14 at 23:11
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    For those interested, this post elaborates on the difference in using singular or plural verbs with constructions like "a lot of". – balu Dec 3 '15 at 20:14

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