What’s the difference between ‘alright’ and ‘all right’?
The key difference is that ‘alright’ is not a real word.
Alright, all right, let me explain …
The word ‘alright’ has evolved from repeated misspelling of ‘all right’ and the merging of the two words into one. While ‘already’ and ‘all ready’ have two distinct meanings, ‘alright’ and ‘all right’ mean the same thing (essentially). The word ‘alright’ is technically not accepted in the English language – however it is rapidly becoming more widely used and this use is received without question, thanks to a few rock stars and other contemporary artists. It’s one of those ‘language evolution’ things (please note, this evolution will never make ‘than’ and ‘then’ interchangeable, so don’t even go there).
Want to know more? This post from Grammar Girl offers a more in-depth examination of the ‘alright’ and ‘all right’ debate according to different style guides and debate. My favourite online dictionary suggests that ‘alright’ is more informal and this is also the case in another article. Whether you choose to use ‘alright’ or not is up to you – let’s make sure you’re using it correctly (well, as correctly as you can use a word that isn’t supposed to be used).
Now, let’s assume that ‘alright’ is, indeed, a real word (and according to WordPress spellcheck, it is). There is a grey area as to whether or not ‘alright’ means the same as ‘all right’, or if it has adopted its own meaning. Personally, I think of the two as having slightly different meanings and I offer these here:
ALRIGHT refers to satisfaction or adequacy, or being ‘OK’.
The movie was alright.
This coffee is alright but it would be better with more sugar.
ALL RIGHT refers to being correct or … well, right.
Did you get the test answers all right?
I like to think that my grammar is all right but I always get someone to edit my essays before submitting them.
I did ALRIGHT on the test because I got the answers ALL RIGHT.
What do you think? Do you use ‘alright’ regularly? How do you differentiate between ‘alright’ and ‘all right’?