1. john murphy
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    john murphy Member

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    All right vs. alright

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by john murphy, Apr 22, 2013.

    I'm not quite sure which to use... all right, or alright.

    examples

    "All right, candidates, get your gear and get in formation."

    "Leave me alone on this issue, alright?"

    (after someone falls down) "Carmen! Are you all right?"

    I know it's a phrase with little meaning, such as "ya' know", but it's common in dialogue, so I want to make sure I'm using it correctly and consistently. Are there differences in usage where one way should be used and the other used for another situation? (such as the third example)
     
  2. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I believe that 'Alright' is not technically a proper word... its more like a contraction or phonetic spelling of 'All Right.' If that's the case, which I'm not entirely sure if it is, then there would not be a difference in usage between them, and it would be more proper to use 'All Right.'

    But, it might be something that has become so prevalent that it is now considered a proper word.

    Hope that helps! (And If I'm wrong, I hope someone corrects me :p )
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Google alright vs all right

    This is a great way to rapidly find the answer to many questions of this type - faster than posting on a forum and waiting.for answers.
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I believe Phoenix is correct; the word "alright" is simply a sort of slang word - a bit like going from "isn't it" to "innit". Since recently discovering this, I now use "all right" in my own writing.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Grammar girl has a good discussion: "All Right" Versus "Alright"
    The not-real-word is "alright", however, it's being used enough it may someday become accepted. Language evolution is a fascinating subject. You can map human migration out of Africa by the following evolving languages.

    That contradiction fascinated me, so I looked at the thesaurus I use and found they consider, "fine" to be a synonym of "all right" so apparently the 'contradiction' isn't one. "The numbers are all right", can have either meaning depending on context. But I can see where using the slang word, alright, has only one meaning.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alright is not a real word, at this time. It will probably become one, and I will not be the least bit happy about it.

    It's certainly very commonly used in casual writing, so if a book were to show the content of a piece of character-written writing verbatim, it would make sense for that writing to use 'alright' when that's realistic.

    I believe that it's not appropriate for the word to be used in narrative, unless the narrative voice is a very casual first person point of view, and even then I'd recommend thinking long and hard about it.

    On another writing forum, I participated in a discussion of whether people who speak the two syllables that form "alright" distinguish between the times that they mean "alright" and the times that they mean "all right". OK, come to think of it, I may have initiated that part of the discussion, and I may have been ignored. :)

    For example, I think that people do experience "y'know" as different from "you know". A person could say "You know that I always go to the grocery on Tuesday!" or "I always go to the grocery on Tuesday, y'know?" and those two would be experienced differently. I have no problem with "y'know" in dialogue and I could stomach it even in casual first person narrative.

    I can see that a person could say, "Alright, hand me the test," and "I got the test questions all right!" and, again, experience those two differently. That is an argument for allowing 'alright' in dialogue and casual-first-person-narrative. I find that argument logically persuasive. Nevertheless, I am not persuaded. I can't explain why.

    Actually, part of the 'why' is that I'm confident that a writer who writes "y'know' knows that "you know" is an alternative and that he has made an informed choice. I am less confident that a writer who writes "alright" knows that "all right" is the more formal, traditional alternative, and so I'm not confident that he has made an informed choice. I feel that there's a good chance that he just made a mistake. And that annoys me.

    But that's not a reason based on a logical evaluation of how the language is used, so to me it's not a really good reason. It's a reason for fearing that the usage might sabotage a submission, but it's not a really good explanation for my strong dislike of the word.

    To continue babbling, another reason is that while "you know" and "y'know" sound different, to my ear "all right" and "alright" sound identical. But there are plenty of words or phrases that sound identical and have fundamentally different meanings, so that's not a good reason either.
     
  7. gwilson
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    gwilson Member

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    I don't care for the contraction "y'know". The only contraction that omits letters from a preceding word, that I can think of, is "o'clock" or "of the clock" and it is a special case as it is contracting more than letters of a single word. The other more commonly used contractions always (<-- how do you like that, "always" - kind of like "alright":cool: - anyway, as I was saying -) contractions omit letters from the subsequent word i.e., "don't", "can't", "you'll",... but not so arbitrarily as "y'know" or (even worse imo) "y'all". To me, (and I'm not sure why, but,) the "y" looks like it should be pronounced with a long "e" sound, like the Spanish "y". So, in this case, "ya'll" looks more appropriate and more typical of contractions. It, also, and etymologically speaking, comes from the Scots-Irish "ye aw", so "ya'll", again, seems more appropriate - a contraction of "ya all" which "ya" is how Southerners of the US typically pronounce "you" when it is said quickly. Plus, if you take into account the amount of literature of the past that include "ya'll" as opposed to "y'all", well, it makes me wonder why many dictionaries are spelling it "y'all". Faulkner, McCullers, and Hemingway used "ya'll". There is plenty of view points on the subject of "y'all" vs. "ya'll"...so I don't know what to think - I feel like just making my own word: "yall" and forget about all yall who might disagree. :)
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    This. Also The Oatmeal has some useful and hilarious grammar comics that have been helpful to many. That is, if you don't mind cursing and crude humor with your grammar lesson. ;)
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Oddly enough as I go through the endless editing processes I've battled this very same dilemma. The problem for me is that I write in kiwi English, which is good since I'm a kiwi, but the default languages / dictionaries in Word 2000 are American. And then to add to the problems, for some reason when I swapped computers some of the dictionaries seemed to switch to Aussie English. When I switch from Aussie to kiwi alright goes from being a legit word to something it won't accept, leaving me with the pain of having to do a lot of finding and replacing.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. john murphy
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    john murphy Member

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    I surmise from the variety of comments that "All right" is necessary when indicating all things are right, and alright is acceptable in dialogue as an affirmative slang like okay.

    "You've checked the equipment. Is everything all right?"

    "I don't think I broke anything when I fell. I think I'm alright."

    "Alright, stop the squabbling and let's get back to business."
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    google hits:

    169 million for the non-word
    to
    268 million for the real word

    it does seem to be creeping up there, but the hits include 'or's and 'vs's, so the number alone isn't clear proof of which is used more in actual writings...
     

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