Monday 26 October 2015

Alright vs. All Right

There is no such word as alright. Banish it at once from your vocabulary! The correct form is all right.

  • First, ask the decapitation victim, “Are you all right?”
  • All right, what’s going on in your boudoir?

First, ask the decapitation victim, "Are you all right?"

“But, but…!” I can hear you say. “What about already? What about altogether? If those words are acceptable, why not alright?”

Yes, it’s true lexicographers (a.k.a. dictionary makers), acting as the bouncers guarding the doors to the English language, have deemed already and altogether cool enough to join the party. Alright, however, is still kicking its heels outside the club, smoking a cigarette and pretending to check its phone.

The Oxford English Dictionary (or OED to grammar nerds) calls alright a “nonstandard” spelling that “is strongly criticized in the vast majority of usage guides.” The American Heritage Dictionary agrees with the “nonstandard” tag, and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines alright as a “disputed variant of all right.”

All right, what's going on in your boudoir?

You may feel that in using alright you are jumping ahead of the stodgy word police and adopting a spelling which will no doubt become accepted in the future. You may be right—but in your attempt to be forward-looking, you risk coming across as ignorant and ill informed.

Until the happy dawn of an alright-embracing world, stick to all right.

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