Just like living organisms, the English language is constantly evolving. New words are added to the lexicon every year while old words are forgotten. It’s what makes English such a special language. This freedom allows the language to adopt new words from different languages and to create new words to describe new inventions and technology. It’s no wonder English has one of the largest vocabularies in the world.
What’s the point? Well, this aspect of the language is particularly important when it comes to deciding whether the spelling of certain words is permissible. Although it’s always best to use words that belong to authoritative sources such as the Oxford Dictionary, sometimes it’s okay to use words that are not.
All right vs. Alright
According to most dictionaries, “alright” is not a word. The proper term is “all right.” However, whether intentional or not, “alright” has been gaining a lot of popularity with English speakers. It could be that they’re just unaware of the correct spelling, but it could also be that “alright” means something slightly different than “all right.”
There are many different ways we use this phrase, but the two most common ways are as adjectives and adverbs.
“She was crying earlier, but now everything is all right.” As you can see, “all right” is being used to describe the situation. In this case, it means everything is fine or there are no problems. However, this isn’t always the case.
“He dances all right.” Here, the phrase “all right” is modifying the verb “dances.” However, in contrast to the meaning in the previous example, “all right” in this case means “satisfactory” or maybe even “below average.”
As previously mentioned, “alright” is not officially a word in most major dictionaries. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not a valid option when writing. In fact, many word doc programs such as Microsoft Word will not mark “alright” as a misspelled word. But if you’re going to use it, make sure you use it correctly.
Some argue that “alright” should only be used as an adverb as in “He dances alright.” However, I would argue that you can use “alright” whenever the meaning is synonymous to “satisfactory” or “below average.”
For example, you can’t say “She was crying earlier, but now everything is alright.” The second half of this sentence is trying to convey that everything is fine now, but if you use “alright” then you could potentially be saying that everything is “below average” which is incorrect in this context.
Remember, it’s never incorrect to use “all right.” If you want to be safe, it’s actually better if you only use “all right.” But if you’re feeling a little adventurous and decide to use “alright,” make sure you’re using it the right way!