Grammar Should You Write Alright or All Right? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Should You Write Alright or All Right?

You might sometimes wonder whether it’s all right to use the word alright. As it turns out, there is a mostly right answer to that.

The Meaning of All Right and Alright

The two-word expression all right is a short way of saying “all is right.” That phrase itself is a quicker version of the cumbersome “everything is more or less fine” or “all is satisfactory.”

Around since at least the 1800s, all right does not open itself to any particular grammatical issues. When you shorten it to alright, however, opinions begin to differ.

While the meanings are identical, many English teachers and grammar purists will insist that the shortened alright is not acceptable. Technically, they are probably correct: all right is overall preferable to alright. Few will ever question you if you use all right in a paper or report, but some may object to alright.

That does not close the case on the shortened version of the word.

Is It Wrong to Be Alright?

Some dictionaries and grammatical guides consider alright to be off-limits, but the consensus is not unanimous. For one thing, the word alright has appeared consistently in books and articles for decades. Even respected authors such as James Joyce have used it in their work.

Furthermore, other English words such as already, almost, and always follow a similar convention (i.e., they are not expressed as all ready, all most, and all ways). Certain linguists and writers would argue that accepting some of these constructions but not others imposes arbitrary limits on word use. If we want to be informal and use the word alright, who’s to say we’re wrong?

The Bottom Line on All Right vs. Alright

Debates about the finer points of American English grammar can be interesting. However, you probably arrived at this article looking for a definitive answer about whether you should write all right or alright.

With that in mind, here is a guideline to follow: stick to the commonly accepted spelling of all right. Doing so will help you avoid unnecessary disagreements with teachers, professors, and those who may review your work professionally. Alright may still someday be fully accepted as an informal alternative, but until then you will likely have an easier time applying the word’s more-established version.

Sharpen Your Grammar One Post at a Time

Proper grammar sometimes can be elusive, and when we get it wrong, it can distract from the intent of our communication. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or a devotee of accurate language use, sharpening your grammar skills in American English is a worthy pursuit with wide-reaching benefits.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get the advice you need. Visit our blog again soon for more helpful grammar articles and tips. We also welcome your questions or thoughts about the topic on this page. Simply leave us a comment below!

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

2 responses to “Should You Write Alright or All Right?”

  1. JC says:

    I have been writing “alright” for decades and have learned, just in the last year, that it is frowned upon. I wish I had my very-long-ago grade school spelling book to prove that I was actually taught that “alright” was right. (I can see it now, in the perfect cursive handwriting of that gray book.) Not to fight about it, because it won’t change anything, but at least to ease the embarrassment of being all wrong for so many years.

  2. LynnCB says:

    We were emphatically taught that “all right” was two words, but “already” was one. I am astonished at how many people didn’t learn this. I don’t remember lessons on “a lot” but did learn that the word “allot” meant “to distribute” and had a double “l”.

Leave a Comment or Question:

Please ensure that your question or comment relates to the topic of the blog post. Unrelated comments may be deleted. If necessary, use the "Search" box on the right side of the page to find a post closely related to your question or comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *