Make Your Editor Cry: All Right vs. Alright

Make Your Editor Cry:  All Right vs. Alright

As an adjective, the phrase all right can mean satisfactory or agreeable. It can also mean safe or well. And, informally, it can mean good or pleasing and is often used as a generalized term of approval.

Examples of All Right as an adjective:

Whatever you decide is all right with me.
He was pretty sick but he's all right now.
She said he was an all right guy.

As an adverb, the phrase all right can mean beyond doubt or certainly. It can be used interjectionally, especially to express either reluctant agreement or resignation, or to indicate the resumption of a discussion. Or it can mean “well enough.”

Examples of All Right as an adverb:

She has pneumonia all right.
All right, we can do that if you want.
All right, let's go.
He does all right in school.
All right, you were saying?

The word alright means, literally, all right. It is just an informal usage. Although according to Webster the spelling of alright is nearly as old as all right, some critics insist that alright is all wrong.

It isn’t.

It’s just informal, and used less frequently than all right. It is fairly common and perfectly acceptable when used in fictional dialogue just like sorta, kinda, ain’t and other similar dialectic constructions.

Alright, then, it’s alright to use alright sometimes. Alright already?

Examples:

If people stay strong and keep pushing we'll be alright.
Alright, I give in.
Alright already, get in the squad car and solve the crime.
It's cheap, alright.

So, the bottom line here is if you want to avoid the ire and sometimes snooty condescension of traditionalists, then say you’re doing all right rather than alright. That will be all right with them. For the folks who are a bit less tightly wound, it’s probably alright to use alright.

Personally, I think it’s alright to use alright in dialogue, but in the narrative text it should nearly always be all right instead.

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