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I know that the article "the" is not used with the fixed expression "a large number of".

But I wonder if it can be used with "a lot of" .

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Yes, you can. When to use "the" with "a lot of" depends on what meaning you are trying to convey. "The" can be used when the following noun is specific.

For example:

A lot of the children I meet are small.

She has seen a lot of the movies that have just come out.

I'm unhappy a lot of the time.

A good rule of thumb for such usage is the possible substitution of the word "many" or"much" for "a lot."

Many of the children I meet are small.

She has seen many of the movies that have just come out.

I'm unhappy much of the time.

In contrast, if the noun that follows "a lot of" is more general, "the" does not work:

A lot of children eat candy.

She has seen a lot of pain.

I have a lot of unhappy moments.

A good rule of thumb for these uses is that the entire phrase "a lot of" can be replaced by "many" or "much."

Many children eat candy.

She has seen much pain.

I have many unhappy moments.

  • so article "the" is not used with "a large number of", is that right? Can we say "a large number of children I meet are small" ? – Nguyễn Quốc Việt May 26 '16 at 14:15
  • I think you should still use "the" when the noun is specific rather than general. A large number of children are small. A large number of the children I meet are small. – Brent Zundel May 26 '16 at 14:30
  • By the way, don't forget to select whichever one of our answers best helped you. – Brent Zundel May 26 '16 at 14:39
1

It depends on how you are using the word lot.

With respect to using lot as an adverb (meaning: often; a great deal; greatly; many) the answer is: no, you cannot. As an adverb, the word lot has two idiomatic forms:

  1. lots
  2. a lot.

The article a in this case is what allows the word lot to act as an adverb. However, if you're using lot in most other capacities, the answer is: yes, you can.

  1. A lot full of cars was destroyed when the gas station exploded. => The lot full of cars next to the gas station was destroyed when the station exploded. (Here lot is a distinct portion or piece of land.)
  2. A lot was drawn to see who would try sneaking through the mob of zombies to go get help. => The lot was drawn to see who would try sneaking through the mob of zombies to go get help. (Here lot is a casting of objects used as a decision method.)

There are cases where this might be ambiguous; in such a case, many English speakers will assume the adverb meaning (often; a great deal; greatly; many) is being used unless context indicates otherwise.

  1. A lot of furniture recovered from the gas station explosion is up for auction. => The lot of furniture recovered from the gas station explosion is up for auction. (Most readers will assume "many items of furniture" from the first sentence, but the second sentence makes it clear we're talking about a specific portion/parcel of merchandise.)
  2. A lot of cars that survived the explosion are being auctioned. => The lot of cars that survived the explosion are being auctioned (Readers will assume "Many cars" from the first sentence, but the second makess clear the reference is to the portion/parcel of merchandise.)

Hopefully this answers the question in an understandable fashion.

  • A lot of the cars next door were destroyed in the explosion. A lot of the furniture couldn't be recovered, but the rest is up for auction. (Two examples of "a lot of the" that seem fine to me.) – nnnnnn May 23 '16 at 19:54
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Yes, you can, but only with certain constructions.

Omnidisciplinarianist's answer identifies one set of constructions that are acceptable because "a lot" is a noun.

It is also possible to use "a lot of" with "the" if the use of "of" in the sentence is partitive. Examples:

"A lot of birds" uses of to indicate number. Since the construction identifies multiples, it by definition cannot be a definite article construction. Thus "a lot of the birds" is incorrect.

"A lot of the time" uses of to indicate a part of the whole. Mass nouns and definite nouns can be partitioned! Thus "A lot of the time" means "much of the time" or "a plurality of the time".

Amusingly, "A lot of The Birds" is correct, since it indicates many or a plurality of the band The Birds.

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You cannot say the a lot of ever.

If you mean the lot of:

A lot can mean and be used in the same way as the word many or much.

This meaning and ability disappears when you use the - the meaning in that case becomes "large group" or "large area to park things."

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