Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you hear people use the word “a lot” frequently?

Do you often modify comparatives in your conversations?

For example-would you typically add something like “much” or “a little” with a comparative adjective?

We’re going to work at understanding how this works, and also how to challenge a teacher if you feel that you’re right.

Here’s a letter that helps to lay the foundation for all of this.

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Hi, Lindsay and Michelle! How are you doing?

I’m Yoshihiro, a high school student in Japan. I really enjoy your podcast. Last year, I spent about 9 months in the United States as an exchange student, so this podcast helps me still stay connected with native English.

By the way, I have a question. Is it ok to say “lot better”?

In a recent English class where we reviewed some grammar points, our teacher listed “much/by far/still/even + comparatives” to emphasize comparative forms. But I think I’ve heard “lot + comparatives” a couple times during my stay in the U.S. I asked her about this, but she told me “we don’t say it that way.” Am I wrong?

I’d be so happy if you answer my question!

Thank you in advance!

Breaking It Down

This is one of those areas that can be a bit confusing.

It seems there was a miscommunication between the listener and the teacher in this example.

Instead of saying “lot better” we would say “A lot better” – a lot+comparative adjective.

The teacher may have been unsure of the question, but it would have been better for him or her to explain that it is correct if you add the word “a” to “lot” rather than saying “We don’t say it that way.”

You will hear people use “a lot” frequently in conversations, and so you can see how it fits.

This is one of those words and rules that you want to practice in your daily conversations to gain confidence with.

It Helps To Add Emphasis

It can be a great way to — as the listener put it–add emphasis to your comparative adjectives.

To review, the way to do this would be to use a word such as a lot and add a comparative.

What does this do?

It makes it sound more intense–more or less.

If you are trying to add emphasis, this is a great way to do it.

You just want to be sure that you know how to express this so that the listener understands what you are trying to say.

Try Using This In Conversation

Consider how this works by looking at an example.

Sometimes seeing these types of things in a sentence can help to clarify a bit.

You might say “I am a lot happier at this job than at my previous one. “

In this example, using a lot, it adds more to it.

If you went without it, it is fine, but if you want to express something in a greater way, a lot would be good

As our listener mentioned, you can also use other words, such as much, a little, and things such as that.

But that’s not what we want to use as the main point for today.

We want to talk about what to do when you are in class and your teacher tells you something is wrong and you don’t understand why.

These instances come up more than you think, and so it’s best to be prepared.

Clearing Up The Confusion

As a teacher, there are a lot of times when you are trying to teach one main point and a question throws you off.

You are trying to stick to a lesson and can get a little thrown off by questions.

It happens to even the best teacher as they try to stick to their plan for the day!

So what can you do if you want clarification in class, or with a tutor, or just with a friend if they tell you something is wrong?

It’s okay to challenge something that you believe to be wrong, but just be sure that you approach it the right way.

How To Challenge Something In The Best Way Possible

If you are going to challenge a teacher or somebody in a similar position, you want to be sure that you do it the right way.

Always remember that your approach and tone of voice will help to make this come across much better.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you want to challenge a teacher or somebody in that type of position.

  1. Just ask! Sometimes you have to come right out and ask the question. It may not necessarily be easy at first, but you can be tactful about it. “I’m not sure I understand why this is wrong. I believe I have heard it said like this before.” Remember don’t be too direct as it can sound rude, so try to come across more as inquisitive.
  2. Give an example!  You are stating something factual and therefore you just want to come across with a good example of this. Not only does this show your knowledge, but it comes across in a much more polite way too. “Would this be right? There are lot better stores.”
  3. Explain that you just want to make sure. This is more indirect and yet you are showing your point of view quite well. “This is something I have been confused about and I think the word better may be able to be used here. How can I make sure that I am using the right word?”

The important thing is to also remember that sometimes there may not be an EXACT rule.

There are always exceptions to rules so don’t get too caught up in if there’s one time a rule is broken.

Remember that we learn in chunks and through experiences.

The better way is to ask with examples as it helps you to come across better and puts the teacher at ease.


If your teacher says something is wrong but you are SURE you’ve heard it somewhere before or just don’t see how it could be wrong, don’t get frustrated.

There may be a misunderstanding. Try giving some examples and explaining that you are just making sure you understand.

If you are nice about it, or even take the time to ask after class when the teacher may have more time to think about it, you will likely get a clear answer.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging something to learn more, as it will only help you to gain confidence.

It’s all about the right approach, and then it will be well received.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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