Difference between ‘alright’ and ‘all right’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more.

The only traditionally accepted way to write the expression “all right” (meaning “acceptable, satisfactory”) is as two separate words. For example:

Is that all right?
Thank you, that’s quite all right.

Perhaps the following terrible pun will help you remember the correct spelling:

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

Other al- words

The spelling of “all right” may seem counterintuitive, since the majority of expressions of the form “all + something”, where “all” is used to mean “in a general manner”, are spelled as a single word, for example,

already, almost, although, altogether, always.

One notable exception is “all-around”, which is spelled with a hyphen:

He’s an all-around good guy.

However, “all right” is never spelled with a hyphen. So, how should you write “all right + noun”, as in “he did an all right job?” The answer is: You shouldn’t. Using “all right” as an adjective before a noun is generally discouraged and considered acceptable only in colloquial speech, but not in formal writing.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.