Word Confusion: All Right versus Alright

Posted April 24, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Yes, I’ve seen alright used in writing. Doesn’t mean it’s all right, unless you’re using it to give the impression of someone who is not well-educated. After all, you see all kinds of typos and misspellings, grammar issues, and more in books. And you know it isn’t right. Same thing applies here. Alright is not all right.

So many people learn English from reading novels that I think authors and publishers have an obligation to provide the best possible text, and that includes proper word usage.

That’s not to say that I don’t approve of colloquialisms — god knows I use ’em often enough — but I do believe there is a time and a place for ’em. And there’s no real good reason to use alright except to create an effect in a character’s dialogue or to make the character seem somewhat uneducated or lazy in his/her speech.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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All Right Alright
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Emoji of the okay symbol with index finger touching thumb

“Ok hand sign” by Google [Apache License 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Another way of saying “all right”.


CD from Trident Studios labeled with the band Queen and a song title Doin' Alright

“Queen’s ‘Doin’ Alright'” by Trident Management (Trident Studios) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Informal usage of “alright”

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Adverb; Exclamation Nonstandard
Variant spelling of all right
Adjective:
Satisfactory but not especially good

Acceptable

  • [Of a person] In a satisfactory mental or physical state
  • Permissible
  • Allowable

Adverb:
In a satisfactory manner or to a satisfactory extent Fairly well

Used to emphasize how certain one is about something

Exclamation:
Expressing or asking for assent, agreement, or acceptance

Common in informal writing and fictional dialogue.
Examples:
Adjective:
Is he going to be all right?

The tea was all right.

“Are you all right? You were screaming.”

It’s all right for you to go now.

Adverb:
Everything will turn out all right.

“Are you sure it’s him? It’s him all right.”

He does all right at work.

She has pneumonia all right.

Exclamation:
All right, where is he?

All right! I’ll tell you.

History of the Word:
First known use: 1808 First known use: 1810

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits

“High-Class Glass” is courtesy of TV Tropes.org and “Redneck Hillbilly” is Gaspirtz’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.


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