Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In practice I find both spellings being used. From a logical point of view, "allright" (as in: "all's right — everything is fine") seems correct. However, I recall hearing that "alright" is the preferable variant.

Is there consensus over which to use? Do they possibly even mean something different?

share|improve this question
    
@Kris this nTuplicate is earning upvotes because it is not an nTuplicate but the original question. Look at the dates, look at the post IDs. The question you linked to is a duplicate of this one, posted forteen months later. And if you pay attention, it was closed as such, almost a year ago. There are two more duplicates, both identified as dupes and closed. You are now suggesting, for reasons that escape me, to close the original as well, so we have four questions closed as duplicates of each other, and exactly zero questions on the subject open. –  RegDwigнt Apr 18 '13 at 8:49
    
@RegDwighт MY BAD! If only I paid attention, it'd have saved a lot of trouble for you and all. Really sorry. –  Kris Apr 19 '13 at 4:34
add comment

8 Answers

up vote 47 down vote accepted

Wiktionary marks alright as an "alternative spelling" of all right, and allright as a "common misspelling" thereof. Merriam-Webster only has entries for alright and all right, and this usage discussion:

The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occasionally in other writing <the first two years of medical school were alright — Gertrude Stein>.

The stats from the Corpus of Contemporary American English and the British National Corpus look as follows:

            COCA   BNC

all right  59013   6384
alright     1888   8328
allright      36      3

This suggests that alright is much more popular in Britain than in the US. However, the Corpus of Historical American English paints the following picture:

Usage stats

X axis: year, Y axis: incidences per million words.

So, alright seems to be gaining popularity in the States as well.

Lastly, the fact that all right loses one L when written as one word is not peculiar in the least — just think of already, almost, although, albeit, almighty, altogether, and any number of other words formed this way.

share|improve this answer
1  
cf. This blowhard's prognostication –  Robusto Feb 17 '11 at 13:32
add comment

The second spelling requires a space: it is either “alright” or “all right”.

The New Oxford American Dictionary says:

Usage: The merging of all and right to form the one-word spelling alright is first recorded toward the end of the 19th century (unlike other similar merged spellings such as altogether and already, which date from much earlier). There is no logical reason for insisting that all right be two words when other single-word forms such as altogether have long been accepted. Nevertheless, although found widely, alright remains nonstandard.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I was taught that "alright" was never correct. I don't see any problem with it in informal contexts, but I would avoid it elsewhere.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'm my humble and uninformed opinion they are both correct, but are a little different.

I would use "alright" in a sentence such as: "Alright, I finished fixing the engine, now to test it.", or "alright, alright already, I'll fix the brakes." while I would say "The car's running all right, but it really needs a wash."

So, I would use "all right" when it really means all of it's right, while "alright" is used in more informal or derivative uses where it doesn't really mean all is right.

share|improve this answer
add comment

To my (overly pedantic) mind, "all right" is the only correct spelling. The other abominations arose from the colloquial "alrighty," as an analog to "already," I suspect.

share|improve this answer
    
So, how would you distinguish between Your homework is all right and Your homework is alright? –  TRiG Jun 22 '11 at 10:25
    
I would call the latter "completely wrong." But, like many things in English, it's completely acceptable these days. Language evolves. –  Fixee Jun 22 '11 at 15:26
    
I'd distinguish between all right, meaning completely correct, and alright, meaning "acceptable". –  TRiG Jun 22 '11 at 17:24
    
Makes sense in a way, but I think you're alone in making this distinction. In particular, it'd be hard to distinguish these when spoken (rather than written). –  Fixee Jun 22 '11 at 18:00
add comment

According to Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus (UK, 2nd ed. 2000):

alright is "a variant spelling of all right."
"USAGE NOTE The form alright, though very common, is still considered by many people to be wrong or less acceptable"

The entry for all right includes:
"all-right (US slang) acceptable; reliable."

allright doesn't even merit an entry.

So 'alright' is all right, but 'allright' is wrong, at least in my book.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The British Shorter Oxford Dictionary as of 1992 lists alright as

frequent sp. of all right 1893.

The Australian Macquarie Dictionary as of 1991 simply has

adj., adv., interj. → all right.

Personally I always use alright even though I'm aware some pedants might not approve.

share|improve this answer
add comment

"All right" is the correct phrase according to almost all grammarians and as per correct usage.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.