I know this was already questioned, but i want to ask, if it would be less confusing and better to use:

  • "A lot of water is wasted." instead of
  • "Lots of water is wasted.

Where "Water" is uncountable, describing much water or a great amount of water seems to me more suitable by "a lot of", also we don't say "muchs of particles are wasted"

A second reason is that "lot" means "more" by it self, why to add the "s" ? Except we want to describe a lot of parts of something / many groups.

Also remembering on the rules of double negatives, where we don't say "I wasn't not running"

  • 1
    To me there is no real difference. 'A lot of water' is more emphatic to my mind and, strictly speaking, your second sentence should be 'Lots of water are wasted', since 'Lots' is plural. I do not understand the relevance of your point about 'double negatives'. – Lee Leon Nov 29 '17 at 9:01
  • no: Apples are tasty. Water is wasted. Great parts of the water are wasted. This is exactly "the confusion" i am talking about when using "lots of parts are...." – FrankMK Nov 29 '17 at 9:09
  • In the same way, you don't say "many much or a lot of many" or "plenty much" :-) – FrankMK Nov 29 '17 at 9:16
  • 3
    'Lots of' is an informal usage and doesn't have a logical meaning. We might sign a greetings card 'Lots of love, X', or say 'There were lots of people at the party'. In making a serious point about water economy, we would refer to 'a lot of water' or 'a great deal of water'. – Kate Bunting Nov 29 '17 at 9:20
  • I would agree with @KateBunting here, but note that 'Lots' is still plural. Taking Kate's example, you would say 'There were lots of people', or you would say 'There was a lot of people' - however, few people would actually bother about the slight inconsistency of 'There was lots of people': 'A lot' and 'Lots' are in most cases used interchangeably. – Lee Leon Nov 29 '17 at 9:28

"Lots of" is a colloquialism, ie not formally correct. It is similar in meaning to "loads of", "heaps of", etc, when used to describe the size of a single group or quantity. As KateBunting says in the comments above it has no logical meaning, and might be an example of hyperbole.

If "a lot of" means "A large number of", then "lots of" means "a multiple of large numbers of". The distinction between this and "a large number of" is logically meaningless.

Note that "a lot" has several meanings, some of them more precise: for example, at an auction, the word "lot" is used to describe a specific group of items offered for sale. In this sense, we could say "there were 5 lots of items for sale", and that makes sense. But when we say "there were lots of people there", we're using the informal meaning.

So, the difference is to do with formality. Sometimes, you may wish to be informal, and other times you may wish to be more formal. It depends on the nature of the communication. If you were writing a report on water wastage, you might want to stick with the more formal "voice", and so you would say "A lot of water is wasted".

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