Thursday, October 21, 2010

Craft Corner Episode 1 - Feeling Alright (sort of)

Back in the day, Joe Cocker sang about feeling alright. I’m so glad for him, really, even though he was probably stoned at the time. I don’t begrudge Joe his mellow pre-munchies euphoria. What I have a problem with is the usage of ‘alright’ a word that by all accounts isn’t a real word.

I hate to be a buzzkill and I’d really love to chillax about the whole thing, but bad spelling is bad spelling, even in a song lyric.

The fact is the word ‘alright’ is not a recognised word. It is a misspelling of the phrase ‘all right’, which means ‘adequate’ or ‘satisfactory’, e.g. “Do you feel all right?”. The correct usage is always as two words, all and right. The one word version is not correct (or not all right). Here’s what the dictionary says about it:

—Usage note

The form ALRIGHT as a one-word spelling of the phrase ALL RIGHT in all of its senses probably arose by analogy with such words as already and altogether. Although ALRIGHT is a common spelling in written dialogue and in other types of informal writing, ALL RIGHT is used in more formal, edited writing.

Alright is a common spelling which according to many is gaining in popularity (dare I say because it is so often misused the grammar geeks are getting tired of correcting people?). I’ve seen it used not only in song lyrics, but published novels and articles. It may well become an accepted word in future. That is how new words are coined after all, by sheer weight of popular use. But for now it is best to stick with the two word, widely accepted usage ‘all right’. That way, no one can ever say you’re wrong!

NB: Already and altogether are distinct words, different in meaning to the phrases all ready and all together. Already is concerned with time e.g. ‘is it summer already?’ whereas all ready has to do with preparedness in a collective sense e.g. ‘are you all ready to go to the beach?’. Similar for all together e.g. ‘are you all together?’ the waitress asked the five diners, meaning are you all in the same group. Altogether means ‘entirely’ as in ‘we are altogether too tired to go to the beach.’ (Or colloqially ‘Sami went to the beach in the altogether’ meaning in the nude. Not on your life, by the way).

So there you have it. Until further notice, alright is not all right—or at least it’s not supposed to be.



  1. Damn. I thought I was going to learn how to fold origami cranes...Craft Corner...Now I understand it's about the craft of writing! LOL Sometimes I forget I write books.

  2. Much too lacking in imagination to think of a better name right now. Writer's Waffle??

  3. Loved your post am right there with you... till I looked up my Macquarie dictionary - they've got alright there with so many meanings it's as though it was always a word... They will put anything in a dictionary these days - providing enough people use it. Go Letitia and her "Stinx" - if we all say it enough it too will make the Macquarie....