Which is Correct?
Is it all right to use “alright”? We’d say so, with a few qualifications:
- Both “alright” and “all right” are words.
- “All right” is considered more correct in that it is the preferred form, especially if you’re writing.
- If you are writing for business or a professor, stick with “all right.” If you aren’t, it’s all right to use “alright.”
Some people believe these words have slightly different meanings. For example:
Q: Were the directions all right?
A: Yes, all of them were correct. Not a single one was wrong.
Q: Were the directions alright?
A: They weren’t specific enough to my taste, but it’s okay.
We’d argue that the implied meaning of “all right” in the first example includes the meaning of “alright” in the second example, so the split use isn’t necessary.
Then there’s the similar but jauntier version “all righty.” Besides the fact that this is only used as an adverb, while the other two can be used as adverbs or adjectives, there’s no real difference in meaning.
To sum up:
- Use “all right” when you’re impressing people.
- Use “alright” when you’re wearing sweatpants.
- Reserve “all righty” for when you’re being sarcastic or cute or you’re extremely excited.
I’ve revealed too much.*
Alot or A Lot?
Which is correct?
This is more cut-and-dried. “Alot” is not a word, though your brain automatically goes to similar constructions like “already,” “almost,” and “although” for proof that it’s all right. However, just because certain words look similar doesn’t mean they’re put together for the same reasons and, by extension, that a similar spelling is correct. While some words start with “al,” “a lot” does not fit that model. Here are a few examples:
- I gobbled seven potatoes because I love them a lot.
- Do you cough a lot when your throat is sore?
- A lot of people feel sad when they eat potatoes.
Two other points of confusion: “lots” and “allot.” The first can be used as an informal plural form of “a lot,” generally used in speech, meaning “much” or “many.”
- I have lots of crayons, but they’re all broken.
- Lots of people like to eat lots of bacon.
- I was sick after eating crayons and bacon, but I feel lots better now.
But “lots” is also the plural of “lot,” a noun, with multiple meanings, as in:
- The vacant lot near my house is a great place to dance.
- There are three lots up for sale in my neighborhood.
- The king had the soldiers decide their fate by lot; whoever pulled the “short straw” would be put to death.
- The witch doctor foretold the future through lots.
Finally, “allot” is a verb that cannot be used to replace “a lot.” It means “to assign as a share or portion” or “to distribute by or as if by lot.”** Check out these examples:
- I allotted three dollars for each child as their weekly allowance.
- The teacher allotted supplies for the semester’s art project to each student.
- (As a noun): The gardener weeded the lettuce and carrot allotment once a month.
Thanks for reading! We hope this helped a lot.
*Besides the implication of the second preceding bullet point, see number 9 in this list.
Merriam Webster has more in-depth information on the difference between “alright” and “all right” and why “a lot” is right but “alot” is not.
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Don’t leave yet! For another jawbreaker of a grammar problem, check out this post on “Lay or Lie?”