Does the word "alright" exist?



I have always known the word "alright" to be grammatically incorrect. In several texts, you will find this word as being written as "all right" but I am no longer 100% what the answer is. Could someone help me?

Posted 25 October 2002

The word alright does exist, but it's much more acceptable to use all rightall right in American English. Both alright and all right are acceptable in British English.

1. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3/e, Houghton Mifflin, 1996) has this as its entry for alright:

"Non-Standard. All right." In its usage notes for all right, it says this:

All right, usually pronounced as if it were a single word, probably should have followed the same orthographic development as already and altogether. But despite its use by a number of reputable authors, the spelling alright has never been accepted as a standard variant, and the writer who chooses to risk that spelling had best be confident that readers will acknowledge it as a token of willful unconventionality rather than as a mark of ignorance.

2. Michael Swan, in Practical English Usage (2/e, Oxford University Press, 1995), says:

The standard spelling is all right. Alright is common, but many people consider it incorrect.

3. Brian A. Garner, in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style (Oxford University Press, 2000), comments:

All right. So spelled. The one-word spelling (alright) has never been accepted as standard in AmE.

4. The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (Random House, 1999) states succinctly: "all right (never alright)."

5. Ann Raimes, in Keys for Writers (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), says: "Alright is nonstandard. All right is standard."

There is, though, a certain acceptance of alright, as it exists, descriptively, in:

The Collins COBUILD English Dictionary (HarperCollins, 1995):

Under "alright":

alright. See all right

Under "all right":

all right; also spelled alright

The Collins Cobuild online (

This corpus lists both "all right" and "alright," almost all in conversational contexts. In examples from American English, "alright" appeared in only 28 instances (out of a possible 40 appearances), and "all right" in 40 (the maximum that ever appears in these sample examples). In British English, "alright" occurred in the maximum 40, and "all right" also occurred in the maximum 40.

The Economist online (

Both "alright" and "all right" occur in news articles.

So, with this information, it seems that you would always be correct using all right, particularly in AmE. In BrE you can use alright, but all right is equally acceptable.

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