Alright vs. All Right

alright-vs-all-rightWhat is the difference between all right and alright, and when is each one used? —Megan

The biggest difference between all right and alright is that one (all right) is a commonly used phrase that’s been accepted by dictionaries and grammar stylebooks for ages, while the other (alright) technically isn’t, well, a word. Resources such as Garner’s Modern American Usage deem all right “the standard,” and make the case that the hybrid spelling alright should be totally avoided because it’s nothing more than a spelling mistake.

As time rolls on, though, more and more folks seem to be using alright—for better or worse—much like already and altogether (both of which are accepted words in the English language). In fact, my word processor’s spell checker doesn’t even give alright that angry red underline to denote that it’s wrong—it just gives me the thin green underline asking if I think I’ve made the right word choice. Apparently Microsoft Word is on the fence, too.

It seems likely that alright will one day become an accepted form of all right, but that day hasn’t come yet. So in the meantime, stick with the standard whenever your writing calls for it, and you’ll be all right.

X3961_GrammarDesk.jpgWant other Grammar Rules? Check out:
Sneaked vs. Snuck
Who vs. Whom
Lay vs. Lie vs. Laid 
Which vs. That
Since vs. Because
Ensure vs. Insure
Home in vs. Hone in
Leaped vs. Leapt

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brian-klems-2013Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

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13 thoughts on “Alright vs. All Right

  1. Angelniner

    tk1974 has the perfect post on the article’s subject. But, on the comma use in this article is unsatisfactory.
    *Needed comma additions are in [ ]
    Resources[,] such as Garner’s Modern American Usage[,] deem all right “the standard,” and make the case that the hybrid spelling alright should be totally avoided because it’s nothing more than a spelling mistake.
    Apparently[,] Microsoft Word is on the fence, too.
    -The commas between “Resources” and “deem” and “So” and “stick” should have been treated like the “though” in the first line of the second paragraph.
    -The comma after standard needs to be removed. Why? Fanboys (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, following a comma) words are used to separate at least two single sentences to form a compound sentence. His sentence is a complex sentence (an independent clause followed by one or more dependent clauses) which does not need a conjunction, therefore, the “and” stands alone or the comma stands alone (as long as the word “make” is changed to “making”), not both.
    -Comma after “Apparently” because apparently is to be considered a transition. “However,…” or “Therefore,…”. This sentence can be used without the use of a transition. (See below)
    The correct choices that could’ve been chosen are:
    -> Resources, such…Usage, deem all right “the standard” and make the case…
    or -> Resources, such…Usage, deem all right “the standard,” making the case…
    or -> Resources deem all right “the standard” and make the case…
    or -> Resources deem all right “the standard,” making the case…
    -> So, in the mean time, stick with the standard…
    -> Apparently, Microsoft Word is on the fence, too.
    or -> Microsoft Word is on the fence, too.
    The English language is difficult, but, if you want to distinguish differences and write about it publicly, you have to do it all correct, all right?
    Additionally, the Oxford comma is needed as not using it can change meanings.
    Example: I had eggs, toast, and orange juice for breakfast. -> All of these items are independent.
    I had eggs, toast and orange juice for breakfast
    -> Toast and orange juice are no longer independent, therefore, the orange juice is poured on the toast.
    Example: I bought sage, basil, salt, and pepper at the store. -> All items are purchased in its own container.
    I bought sage, basil, and salt and pepper at the store.
    -> Sage and basil are in their individual container and salt and pepper are mixed in a single container.

    1. Tighter Writer

      Ooops! Obviously I meant to write: The ‘alright’ / ‘all right’ issue …
      The automatic spelling corrector wanted to settle the issue all by itself 🙂

  2. tk1974

    I’m an English teacher and must disagree:
    “Already” and “all ready,” and “all together” and “altogether” are NOT in the same vein as “all right” and “alright”–“alright” is a misspelling, but is gaining a following much like “ain’t” in the English language (see source below).

    Here’s a breakdown of the others:

    “All Together” and “Altogether”
    Let’s tackle the easy stuff first: words that really are words. Our first pair of real words is “all together” (two words) and “altogether” (one word). The two-word phrase “all together” simply means “collectively”; everyone is doing something all at once or all in one place (1), as in “We sang the national anthem all together.” If you like, you can break up this two-word saying (2), as in “We all sang the national anthem together.”

    “Altogether,” spelled as one word, means “entirely,” as in “We are altogether too tired.” You certainly can’t do the separation trick here. “We all are too tired together” sounds altogether silly.

    “All Ready” and “Already”
    Our second pair of sometimes-confused words is “all ready” (two words) and “already” (one word). “All ready” as two words means “prepared” (3), as in “The cookies are all ready to be eaten.” Again, you can separate the two words and the sentence still makes sense: “All the cookies are ready to be eaten.”

    While “all ready” as two words connotes preparedness, “already” as one word is concerned with time; it means “previously,” as in “I can’t believe you ate the cookies already.” As with “altogether” as one word, you can’t do the separation trick. You can’t say, “I can’t believe you ate all the cookies ready.” That doesn’t make sense.

    :See more at:

    1. Angelniner

      This is awesome. The explanation and examples are well used.
      I think Brian want to make it seem like he knows what he’s talking about; he can’t even get his comma usage down properly.

  3. csinclaire

    I’m 60 years old, and I was taught in junior high (I guess they call that middle school now?) that “alright” was the correct usage. I’m not saying it is or that I like it. I’m only saying, it has been around a long, long time. I’m surprised you seem to only notice it coming into more common usage of late, when it’s been in use for decades now. I personally use “all right,” but I do use “already” and “altogether.” This is the only way I’ve ever seen these two words used. It would seem odd to say, for instance, “He stood there in his all together!”

  4. laurenruiz05

    When I’m editing, I usually impose “all right” as the proper spelling, unless the piece of writing is super casual, and then I comment saying that “all right” is the correct form, though “alright” is becoming accepted and can be used–I also encourage writers to at least use whichever form they choose *consistently* within a piece.

    Lexie: Your comment made me smile.

    Lauren I. Ruiz
    Proofreader, Editor

  5. birdsedge

    There’s a difference between British English and American English usage, too. British English is much more tolerant of the word ‘alright’. It is, in fact, given as a correct alternative to ‘all right’ in the Oxford English Dictionary, which is good enough for me.

  6. CaseyBry

    There is a difference between the two terms:

    “The answers are all right.”

    “The answers are alright.”

    See the difference? The first statement indicates that the answers are all correct. The second statement simply describes them as being okay, akin to a lukewarm or merely competent explanation or resolution.

    In other words, there is nothing wrong with using ‘alright’ in place of ‘okay’. Indeed, it should be encouraged.

  7. Lexie Winslow

    I only received two spelling corrections on essays in college: in freshman year, one professor changed “all right” to “alright,” and in junior year, another changed “alright” to “all right.” You’re spot on about the confusion!


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