I am about to get a tattoo of a quote which means a lot to me. English is not my mother tongue, but I just love the language, so I decided to get it tattooed in English. Now I am unsure about one word. The quote is:

Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it's not the end.

So generally, I would prefer the look of the word alright, which is a 'non-standard' word. Would it still be acceptable to use in this context? Thank you for your opinions.

EDIT: Man, I just checked Amazon out of curiosity. There are so many songs that use alright in the title... This is really, really confusing...

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    Like you say, it's non-standard. 'Acceptability' depends on context. It would not be considered acceptable in many formal registers. ODO has: << Similar ‘merged’ words such as altogether and already have been accepted in standard English for a very long time, so there is no logical reason to object to the one-word form alright. Nevertheless, many people dislike it and regard it as incorrect, so it’s best to avoid using alright in formal writing. Write it as two separate words instead. >> But does a tattoo need a formal register? Aug 8, 2017 at 23:42
  • Thank you, Edwin! Hmm, I don't think that a tattoo qualifies as formal writing... :-)
    – Runner
    Aug 8, 2017 at 23:48
  • What if all you need is "If it's not all right, it's not the end"? Aug 8, 2017 at 23:51
  • 1
    @Yosef ODO is speaking of observed patterns of word formation, not claiming that the original open compounds / collocations don't persist, and not claiming that meanings can't later diverge. Aug 9, 2017 at 0:14
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Is it "alright" or "allright"?
    – vpn
    Aug 9, 2017 at 0:54

3 Answers 3


I agree with the comments, and here's why. "Alright" is often used as an affirmative (a substitute for "Yes" or "OK"). I would never ask the question, "are you alright?" That wouldn't make sense, even colloquially.

Slurs like "Alright" I suspect happen when a response is so common people stop enunciating. It might be acceptable to write, "It's alright," but that's also simply an affirmative. "Everything is OK!"

In the sense you're using the phrase, "all right," you're setting a condition, not expressing an affirmative. "Everything will be all right." Meaning the conditions of the situation will prove to be beneficial.

So, to make a long story short, if you can replace "alright" with "yes," then you can use "alright." If you can't, use "all right." I wouldn't suggest this as a hard-and-fast rule, but it should generally work.

Thus, go with "all right."

  • 1
    "Alright" and "all right" are alternate spellings of the exact same word(s) and there's no distinction in pronunciation or usage between them. Either you consider the one-word spelling alright or you don't, you might say.
    – Casey
    Aug 9, 2017 at 2:59
  • Addendum: if you can turn up any reference supporting your distinction it might make the answer stronger.
    – Casey
    Aug 9, 2017 at 3:07
  • reference. I should think "altogether" began its existence as "all together" and the slur came much, much later... and the uniqueness of definition later still. Patience, and time will prove me right. You've gotta love living languages.
    – JBH
    Aug 9, 2017 at 4:39
  • Your reference just says never to use alright, not to make some distinction between them.
    – Casey
    Aug 9, 2017 at 12:05
  • "...but it then goes on to explain that 'all right' as two words and “alright” as one word have two distinct meanings...". @Casey, if what you're looking for is canonical proof that there are two distinct meanings, I likely won't find that (today). It's probably too early in the development of the words' meanings to find that. Yet, I've spoken to a number of people and they agree with my assessment of the two words. The development of two meanings continues - no matter how distasteful that may be. Cheers.
    – JBH
    Aug 9, 2017 at 14:54

Choose your preferred meaning.

Colloquially "alright" means "Okay" or "acceptable" or "good enough". The two words "all right" has a meaning closer to perfection -- "all parts of it are right".

  • 1
    They're alternate spellings of the same thing.
    – Casey
    Aug 9, 2017 at 2:58
  • 3
    Colloquially, it's impossible to distinguish the two. ‘Colloquial’ deals with spoken language, not written language, and the difference is entirely orthographic, with no correspondence in pronunciation. Aug 9, 2017 at 9:34

Dictionary.com Unabridged has this to say:

The form alright as a one-word spelling of the phrase all right in all of its senses probably arose by analogy with such words as already and altogether. Although alright is a common spelling in written dialogue and in other types of informal writing, all right is used in more formal, edited writing.

Any usage distinctions between the two spellings are wholly imagined.

However, whether pedants like it or not, a search of Google Books reveals a whole lot of books use the spelling "alright" in the title, presumably the most carefully edited part of the book. More specifically to your question, many use the phrase "be alright." On this evidence I find it hard to agree with the suggestion that "careful writers" only use the spelling "all right."

Go on ahead and use the spelling "alright" if you prefer. It's perfectly alright.

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