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    Alright vs. All Right

    Categories: Brian Klems' The Writer's Dig, Grammar Rules Tags: Brian Klems.

    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 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.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
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    9 Responses to Alright vs. All Right

    1. tk1974 says:

      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: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/all-right-versus-alright#sthash.NtqJEVZn.dpuf

    2. anndeseray says:

      All right means that we are all in agreement. Alright is a colloquialism such as a trite cliche.

    3. csinclaire says:

      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. 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
      http://www.pure-text.net

    5. birdsedge says:

      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 says:

      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. 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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