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Is Everything “All Right” or “Alright?”

I pulled out my Tom Petty CD Full Moon Fever and enjoyed listening to it again. Then I saw one of the titles: “Alright For Now.”

That got me thinking. Is that correct?

Free had a hit in 1970 with “All Right Now.” Is that correct?

When we talk or sing, there’s no way to know if we’re saying or singing all right or alright (unless we or the musician spell it out). So when we write, which is correct?

The answer is both, although all right is more correct and more formal.

According to my dictionary, the two words evolved from the Old English ealriht. Variations in writing and speaking over time have given us not just these two but also all ready/already and all together/altogether. Since the 19th century, some have believed that alright is all wrong, but writers such as Gertrude Stein (“the first two years of medical school were alright“) and the New York Times have used it, and it remains common today.

So, enjoy the uses, whether you prefer Petty or Free.

Until next time! Use the right words!


July 10, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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