Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

All right now…

with 8 comments

This is my pet peeve to end all language pet peeves. Two words are used to spell “all right.” That’s exactly what it should look like, all right? It means satisfactory, agreeable.

The Chicago Manual of Style says to avoid “alright.” To my chagrin, “alright” has been used in business publications, by journalists, and even by Gertrude Stein.

Speaking for myself alone, I cannot stand “alright” because it looks like a misspelling.

But something interesting is happening to the usage of “alright.” Contemporary American urban use has reduced it to a single syllable expressed on paper as “a’ight.” If you’re one of the more than 35 million TV viewers of “American Idol,” you would’ve heard judge Randy Jackson say “a’ight” more than a few times per episode. It’s pronounced like the word “height” but without the H.

I accept “a’ight.” The apostrophe, inserted to indicate that letters have been removed, makes this spelling acceptable (palatable, really).

So here’s to “a’ight.” Though it’s considered slang right now, I’d welcome its entry into the dictionary.

Written by wellaintheworld

2007 Feb 18 at 21:41

8 Responses

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  1. Dang, I use “alright” all of the time. Not sure why, but I’ve been doing it my entire life. Not sure that I’ve ever used “all right,” either. I’m a bad person. Seems strange that this would be considered wrong when you have things like “altogether,” “already,” “although,” etc. that are entirely correct. I use “alrighty” too, and writing it as “all righty” just looks like you’re excluding southpaws.

    Maybe everything would be okay if I used an apostrophe…


    2007 Feb 19 at 08:01

  2. As nosugrefneb says, “alright” follows the pattern of “altogether”, “already”, and “although”. The difference seems to be that those words are older, while “alright” dates from the end of the 1800s. That hardly seems like a good reason to dislike the word, but it’s disliked anyway.


    2007 Feb 19 at 19:02

  3. I like “alright” and yet can’t stand “alot”. I agree “alright” follows a pattern while “alot” is just out there on it’s own causing trouble.

    But more importantly, “all right” actually seems illogical to me…or at best ambiguous. “His answers were alright” means they are OK or satisfactory. Some may have been wrong, but overall they were adequate. “His answers were all right” says to me that all his answers — every one of them — were correct. Or it certainly *could* mean this, which just leaves us confused. For me the following sentence has meaning:

    “Overall, his answers were alright, although they weren’t all right.”

    But hey, I’m pretty much a grammar slacker.

    Blue Athena

    2007 Mar 15 at 12:47

  4. 100% agree. You are a genius.


    2007 Mar 15 at 13:01

  5. Nicely done, Blue Athena.
    That’s exactly the sort of example I was trying to concoct to say just that.

    The two are also prosodically different. When I say ‘alright’ it is clearly (clear to me at least) a single phonological word, with a single stressed syllable; [olráit]. ‘All right’ however is not a single phonological word as it has two adjacent stressed syllables [ól#ráit], something English does not allow.
    If there were an intervening unstressed syllable then you wouldn’t be able to use this test. So, ‘all together’ and ‘altogether’ can sound identical without violating phonological constraints on English word formation. That is, both syllables ‘al’ and ‘ge’ can take stress and the resulting utterance will not have two stressed elements adjacent to each other; they will be separated by ‘to’.
    Thus, there is more phonological evidence for the existence of ‘alright’ as a distinct word from the phrase ‘all right’ than there is for the same distinction between ‘all together’ and ‘altogether’.


    2007 Mar 18 at 23:45

  6. I have to agree with the OP. Alright isn’t a word. While I hadn’t previously considered the merits of adding a’ight to the dictionary, it makes sense. Comparable, in my mind, to y’all. Y’all should be acceptable because our language is often confusing because it lacks a plural “you.” It’s grammatically correct if used to clearly indicate a collective “you.”


    2007 Apr 4 at 09:39

  7. Although I think Blue Athena makes a good point, I personally would never write “alright” — though I say it all the time. Sorry, but it just looks WRONG.

    “Alot” is a bigger pet peeve of mine. I live in fear of the day when alot appears in the dictionary. Why do people who would never dream of writing “alittle” think “alot” is okay?

    Daxie Day

    2007 Oct 22 at 10:27

  8. The word alright is the most frequently misspelled word in the English language. Confused with already-no doubt. Think you’ve heard ’em all? Check out these Top 40 Vocabulary Pet Peeves, but warning… you may cringe on a few that you have misused.

    Mark Pennington

    2009 Aug 3 at 19:32

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