1. jlauren
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    jlauren Senior Member

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    Is it Okay to say OK?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jlauren, Dec 3, 2009.

    I've been wondering this for a while. In a novel, should you ever use 'OK', whether in dialogue or simply throughout the narration? Or should it always be 'Okay'?
     
  2. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I've seen it done both ways, Jessica. Just be consistent. I prefer "okay," only because it blends into the dialogue better than the capitalized OK, which tends to stand out unnecessarily IMO. But maybe that's just me. I'd say if there is a style preference from a publishing house, it'd more likely be for the entire word, rather than that someone would actually prefer just the letters themselves (unless it's a story about texting or something--where it might even be just "K" or apostrophe K ('K).)
     
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  3. Ecksvie
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    Ecksvie Member

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    I'm with Manhattan. I'm fairly sure if you look it up in the dictionary, "okay" is the official spelling. OK is an abbreviation, albeit a common one. Much like "all right" becomes "alright". "All right" is official but "alright" has become common and accepted.
     
  4. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I definitely would go with "okay," I never much like seeing abbreviations, much less abbreviations of short words, in writing. Personal preference I guess, but whatever haha.
     
  5. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    Well, either one seems fine by me. Just be consistent, like the others said.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'okay' is the only OK way to write it in prose... keep the abbreviation for personal correspondence, if you don't want to risk looking silly [or worse], to agents and editors...
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Actually, I see this in the OXFORD DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN USAGE AND STYLE:

    "OK; O.K.' okay. Each of these is OK--but nowadays the first is the most OK of all."

    So, you might want to check your style manual of choice:).
     
  8. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    This isn't like saying should you use contractions (don't, won't etc) or the full forms (do not, will not). When you say 'don't' it's phonetically different to 'Do not' and it's use in fiction usually expressed something about a character if a choice is made. But with OK and okay: there's no phonetic difference between the two when you say it, so it becomes more a reflection of the author and how he handles himself, say, over how the narrator or speaker handles himself, which is something you don't really want.

    Possibly the only time I would use 'ok' is if I was porytraying character through handwriting:

    Jack looked at the message. U ok 2 c me l8ter...? And he couldn't resist it. 'When your dad sent you to improve your oral skills, Sue, you really got the wrong end of the stick, didn't you, lass?'
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would normally use "Okay", but if I am portraying a character who widely uses acronyms like PDQ, AOK, and AKA, I might be inclined to use OK in his or her speech as well to indicate that it is how he or she thinks it.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that it's in the dictionary doesn't necessarily mean it's ok to use the abbreviated form in writing fiction... and, unless it's being shown as an excerpt of actual writing by someone who would use it, the abbreviated version really shouldn't be used there... i['m fairly sure that if you do, it'd be changed by the editor, if you sell the piece...
     
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  11. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think, as much as you and I both prefer the word "okay" spelled out, we ought not to think that publishers have that particular preference. I looked through a few books on my shelf, and here's what I found ...

    From Deborah Eisenberg's short story "Some Other, Better Otto": "... Because I don't want to be seeing you around here, O.K." (reprinted from THE YALE REVIEW by Houghton Mifflin in 2004 BASS). Annie Proulx "What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?" "Ma! Ma, you O.K.?" "O.K. ," she said ... Sherman Alexi "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" (both reprinted from THE NEW YORKER in the same BASS)

    In Perec's A VOID, I find "okay." This was originally published by Harper Collins. Also "okay" in THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG published by Vintage Books (a division of Random House).

    "OK" is in EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED (Jonathan Safron Foer, published by a Harper Collins imprint, Perennial). Also in Murakami's short story collection BLIND WILLOW, SLEEPING WOMAN published by Knopf.

    I'd guess that they might allow for some author preference on this. I tried (and failed) to find "okay" in any form in Toni Morrison's BELOVED, since I know that she has very particular preferences about how her prose appears in print. It looks to me, though, like she has a preference for "all right,"and doesn't much use okay in any form where she can do otherwise. Looks to me like it's more a matter of choosing an option (none of which indicates a novice writer) and being consistent. If the publisher has a preference, I'm sure they'll say so.
     
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  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what are you referring to with the acronym 'BASS'?
     
  13. ChimmyBear
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    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I would never abbreviate the word okay. In my opinion, the writing doesn't seem as polished when it is shortened. :)
     
  14. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    In internal dialog yes, I think its fine, in speech not such much. Why, because speech, in addition to representing what is said also represents the way a character says it. When someone says OK it comes out as Okay, hence the latter should be used.
     
  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Technically, "OK" is not an abbreviation of "Okay", but "Okay" is the phonetic spelling of "OK".

    OK itself is an abbreviation for god-knows-what.

    According to wikipedia:

    Just trying to confuse the topic a bit more :D
     
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  16. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Best American Short Stories.
     
  17. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    It should always be "Okay"

    Personally, I think that it should always be okay. I find that when I am reading a novel, fanfiction, or fictional book, I am always bothered when the author says OK. This could be because I am a bit obsessive-compulsive about my grammar and language, or try to be, but it bugs me. This does not mean, however, that I avoid reading a book simply because it has shortend (shortand?) "okay" to "OK." It just means that I enjoy seeing the longer style of okay, because I feel as though that is how we speak it. :eek:
     
  18. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    Edit - and I don't think you should ever use it in professional writing.
     

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