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"All Right" Versus "Alright"

And other “all” words—are they one or two words? Or both?

By
Bonnie Mills, read by Mignon Fogarty,
May 29, 2009
Episode #172

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all right or alright

Today’s topic concerns three sets of words that are easy to confuse: “all together” (two words) and “altogether” (one word), “all ready” (two words) and “already” (one word), and “all right” (two words) and “alright” (one word). As we’ll see shortly, one of these six words isn't even a real word.

“All Together” and “Altogether”

Let’s tackle the easy stuff first: words that really are words. Our first pair of real words is “all together” (two words) and “altogether” (one word). The two-word phrase “all together” simply means “collectively”; everyone is doing something all at once or all in one place (1), as in “We sang the national anthem all together.” If you like, you can break up this two-word saying (2), as in “We all sang the national anthem together.”

“Altogether,” spelled as one word, means “entirely,” as in “We are altogether too tired.” You certainly can’t do the separation trick here. “We all are too tired together” sounds altogether silly.

“All Ready” and “Already”

Our second pair of sometimes-confused words is “all ready” (two words) and “already” (one word). “All ready” as two words means “prepared” (3), as in “The cookies are all ready to be eaten.” Again, you can separate the two words and the sentence still makes sense: “All the cookies are ready to be eaten.”

While “all ready” as two words connotes preparedness, “already” as one word is concerned with time; it means “previously,” as in “I can’t believe you ate the cookies already.” As with “altogether” as one word, you can’t do the separation trick. You can’t say, “I can’t believe you ate all the cookies ready.” That doesn’t make sense.

Next: "All Right" Versus "Alright"

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