All right vs. Alright

You mean...all right?My darling husband has been nagging me to do a post on the word alright. I’ve been avoiding it because I thought it was a stupid post and that everyone knew how to use  all right or alright. Little did I know that even I had no clue how to use it! After some research I’ve found that most of us are probably using this incorrectly. Read on to become a little bit smarter! 😉

All right, here’s the deal…

…alright isn’t a word. However, it’s becoming increasingly popular as people do not realize that it isn’t a word. Because of its popularity, many dictionaries are opting to say it’s the “one word” spelling of all right. In dialogue and creative writing, many people choose to use this “one word spelling.” In formal and academic writing, it should definitely be avoided at all costs.

Well what do you think, Kelly?

I think I’m an idiot because I’ve been using alright for as long as I can remember. I was never taught that it is not a word. After looking at various dictionaries, I do feel comfortable removing the term from my written vocabulary and replacing it with the two word form, all right.

Final Thoughts

All right means that something is correct or satisfactory–the same meaning we generally attribute to alright. Make sure when you’re writing a paper for class or work that you use the two word form. If anyone tries to challenge you, just bring them to me! Good luck!

Posted in Grammar Quick Fix.

6 Comments

  1. I’m quite confused now. If I go by this, then I can neither say “Is everything alright?” (because alright is not a word) nor “Is everything all right?” (because it doesn’t make sense), right?

    • You CAN say “Is everything all right?” because as I said at the bottom of my post, it means correct or satisfactory. As such, saying “Is everything all right?” would be similar to “Is everything satisfactory?” or “Is everything ok?” All right has the same meaning as “alright,” it’s just the latter isn’t actually an accepted word as of yet.

  2. Too long has ‘alright’ been commonly used for it to not be a word in the English language. Language is not fixed. If formal and academic writing must be used with a fixed version of the language, then before long they would be unintelligible.

  3. I have a problem with the idea of someone saying, ‘its not a word.’ Most of the words we use, Internet, for example was not a word 30 years ago. So we shouldn’t use it? Of course not. Who gets to say a word is a word anyway? When does it become ‘proper’ to use? The idea of what you said that it is an informal spelling of all right is a much better suggestion as to the usage of this word. I have looked at several different sites to see what they say about this and there are as many varied answers as can be. I don’t think there is an easy answer. The first question that still raises it’s ugly head is when do we get to call this a word? Then we can say, well, here are the proper uses for it. If so many people are using it, then my feeling is that it has been accepted as a word and those that feel are in power of telling us what words we can and can’t use need to wake up. Then become realistic and start with definitions. Until then it is everyone’s guess as to how to use what and where this word is used.

    • You’re absolutely correct in that there is no easy answer. Additionally, there’s no easy answer for myriad other things like “bling,” “Googling,” “Facebooking,” etc. Saying it’s not a word is, in a sense, a cop-out. But, given the primary audience of the Grammar Quick-Fix section (students who want a clear and simple answer, who may hopefully learn something in the process), I frequently do not discuss the theoretical and philosophical problems/nuances of linguistics in these posts. Instead, what I focus on is what most educators expect from their students–Standard Written English–, which in this case would be “all right.” Now, is SWE right or wrong? Well, that’s an entirely separate discussion.

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