CS Sealey

New Zealand-based sub-editor, writer and author

The difference between all right and alright

TLDR: Alright is a misspelling that is creeping into dictionaries as an accepted alternate spelling.

‘What?!’ you might cry in exasperation. Alright isn’t a word! They taught me that in primary school!

Calm down, I agree with you. However, it is a matter of contention in the English language right now as to whether alright should be considered a word in its own right or as an accepted alternate spelling for all right. I am saddened to say that some dictionaries have already made this step in Australia. But then again, where would the English language be without evolution?

all right (adjective)—an adequate state

‘Are you all right to keep going?’

‘Is the soup all right?’

all right (adverb)—in a satisfactory way; or used to emphasise certainty

‘I can manage the weight all right, thanks.’

‘Phew, it’s hot out here all right!’

all right (exclamation)—expressing acceptance

‘All right, all right! I’ll marry you!’

‘Fine! I admit it! I was hiding behind the crates like a big coward, all right?‘

I personally have always used and always will use all right, unless forced to use alright as part of a style guide.

Just remember, while alright might be acceptable in some circles, all right is already an accepted and correct phrase worldwide. So to avoid any contention, why not simply use all right and always be right! All right?

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