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Old Oct 6 2008, 02:22 PM   #1
D. M. Domini
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Default alright vs. all right

Hey guys...writing question. I just realized, to my dismay, that I use both "all right" and "alright" in my fiction. o.O Reading through my fic, I usually use "all right" when someone is asking someone else if they are ok, and "alright" when someone is using it in a way that doesn't have to do with a person's state of being. When it's more of a verbal quirk. In example...

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm all right. Thanks for asking."

vs.

"Alright, this is what we'll do...first, we'll do plan A, and then..." he trailed off, because the author just wants to finish the sentence.

Nobody has (surprisingly) called me on it in any reviews of my fiction, so I suspect that "alright" is common enough these days to go under the radar. It certainly went under mine for a long time. Still, I have to ask...do you think the way I'm using it is ok, taking into consideration that I'm writing fiction, and not a journal article?
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Old Oct 6 2008, 02:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

"alright" is perfectly fine in UK English.
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Old Oct 6 2008, 03:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

There was a time when my spell checker didn't recognize "alright" -- though it does now -- so I've always stuck with "all right."
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Old Oct 6 2008, 05:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

I think this is why we're lucky to have a living language

Thinking about it, my instinct would be to use "all right". I have always thought "alright" was an Americanism. *shrugs* You live and learn
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Old Oct 6 2008, 10:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

Ok, cool, thanks for the affirmation. "Alright" might well be an Americanism...I know I slip in Midwestern things from time to time, too. I just wanted to check and see if it would make anyone flail and cry out in pain, and I'm glad to see that that's not the case.

Now I'm wondering if I should use "alright" for everything, or split it out like I was (mostly) doing, with "alright" for interjections, and "all right" for states of being...
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Old Oct 6 2008, 11:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

According to the Oxford English dictionary, ALRIGHT is both adjective and adverb. Adjective = non-standard usage, Adverb = everything's okay and correct. It runs in a similiar vein to DON'T (Do Not), ISN'T (Is Not) etc... Same thing applies to ALREADY (ALL READY = ALL (adv. + READY adj.) Hope that helps.
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Old Oct 7 2008, 09:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

I'd back Jube (mainly) and say use the 2 word version for adjectives and the 1 word version for adverbs.








(Or do what Fowler advocates in his "Modern English Usage" and use the 2 word version everywhere.)
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Old Oct 7 2008, 02:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

"Blended" words can be a problem sometimes. I tend to use all right and alright the way DMD first stated. I've had complaints with both usages at different times. I have similar problems with cannot vs can not.
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Old Oct 8 2008, 09:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

Another blended one is 'thankyou' as opposed to 'thank you'.
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Old Oct 11 2008, 02:25 AM   #10
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

If "alright" is an Americanism, it's yet another reason for me to be embarrassed to be American. It doesn't get noticed by the spellchecker, but I plain hate how it looks. It always comes across as sloppy and misspelled to me -like lazy teen text talk- since I was always taught it was "all right".

Therefore, I stick with the two-word version. It just seems more proper that way.
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Old Oct 11 2008, 04:46 PM   #11
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

I'll use it when I'm typing "conversationally", such as here - but for something like a story or a writing assignment, I would use "all right". I can see using "alright" in dialogue, but it's not really necessary either.
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Old Oct 11 2008, 06:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

Well if the all right/alright thing bugs you, you can always use "ok" or maybe (may be?) "okay" or "O.K."
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Old Oct 11 2008, 07:03 PM   #13
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

MSN Encarta definition:

all right or alright?


Alright has never gained wide acceptance even though it is to be seen in the prose of many well-known writers such as Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, and James Joyce. It is generally regarded as nonstandard, and so should be avoided in formal writing unless it is purposely included in fictional dialogue or another special context in which a particular effect is sought by the writer. Use instead all right, which has all the meanings, including "satisfactory," associated with alright.
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Old Oct 12 2008, 01:28 AM   #14
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

A good question would be is ALRIGHT an Americanism or not? Doesn't mean that it is one. After all in the 2 dictionaries that I compared, neither state that it is an American lingo-ism so it's possible that variations of words over the centuries has continued to evolve and has changed depending on locality. After all 1000's of English words plus variations usually confuse quite a few people, regardless of nationality. In other words, the possibility exists that a meaning for a person in England may be different for someone in Australia or America as the English language continually evolves along the way.
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Old Oct 12 2008, 06:54 PM   #15
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

Quote:
Originally Posted by jube View Post
. After all 1000's of English words plus variations usually confuse quite a few people, regardless of nationality. In other words, the possibility exists that a meaning for a person in England may be different for someone in Australia or America as the English language continually evolves along the way.

Very true, jube! Somewhere in the archives there is probably still a thread about that very thing.
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Old Oct 13 2008, 06:58 AM   #16
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

That comes from having a mother who is English and a father who (unfortunately passed away 8 years ago, bless 'em) was Australian. The lingo between the 2 is like calling the kettle black sometimes, hence coming up with the aristocratic oomph of the English and the Aussie larrikin-ism that I produce sometimes when I'm writing
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Old Oct 23 2008, 04:28 AM   #17
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Default Re: alright vs. all right

Despite The Who's 1965 anthem 'The Kids Are Alright', the usage has not become mainstream in the UK - certainly not in books or quality newspapers, mainly because the usage has largely been superseded by the crisper Americanism 'ok'. Most sub-editors in the UK adhere to the original all right construction, rejecting the analogy of already and altogether.

When I updated my style book some five years ago (I'm chairman of the board of my local community newspaper) I stayed with all right, since the vocalic value of all is usually retained in UK speech.

I note that The Guardian's style guru David Marsh agrees in his pithy 2007 adjuration:

all right is right; alright is not all right
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