You’ve probably come across the terms all right and alright before. But you may be a bit confused about how they differ. They seem like they could be different ways of spelling the same term. But on the other hand, all right vs. alright look a lot like all together vs. altogether, which mean different things.
So which is it? Are all right vs. alright the same term or different ones altogether? We’re about to solve the puzzle.
All right vs. alright are different versions of the same term
If you look all right up in a dictionary, you’ll definitely find it. And what will that dictionary tell you about what all right means? It’ll say that all right means satisfactory, safe, or well. Here’s how you would use it in a sentence:
- “The cookie tasted all right.”
- “She tripped in the stairwell yesterday, but she’s all right now.”
- “Whichever option you choose is all right with me.”
As you can see, you can use all right in a few slightly different ways. But all uses get at the same general idea of something or someone being okay.
Now what about alright, the one-word version of the term? We said that all right vs. alright share a definition. So why can’t you use them interchangeably whenever you want to?
Technically, you can swap all right and alright in a sentence. This means that you could replace all right with alright in any of the sentences above:
- “The cookie tasted alright.”
- “She tripped in the stairwell yesterday, but she’s alright now.”
- “Whichever option you choose is alright with me.”
And if you look alright up in a dictionary, such as the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you’ll find an entry for it.
The catch is that most dictionaries and grammar experts view alright as an informal version of all right. They don’t recognize it as an official word in its own right. This is the case even though alright isn’t a slang term millennials came up with. It’s been in use since 1865, and even iconic writers like Mark Twain and James Joyce used it. (That’s a bit of an honour!) But this hasn’t been enough to sway editors, who still believe all right is the only correct version of the term.
So you might see alright pop up in casual notes and emails. But you’re less likely to see it in edited text. It’s true that there are some people who defend alright as a proper word, but they’re in the minority. That’s why if you want to use what most people would find acceptable, go with all right.
All right vs. alright mean the same thing. And you can use them interchangeably in casual writing.
But whereas dictionaries and grammar experts recognize all right as a formal word, the same isn’t true of alright. So if don’t feel like picking a fight with a grammar stickler, stick with all right in formal writing.
Should you use more than or over in this sentence: “We’ve ordered ______ 250 cupcakes for the party”? Find the answer in our blog post on how more than and over differ.