Thursday, April 29, 2010

Okay, all right, alright

Finished Chapter 2; 4,121 word count

Writing Tip: Which word is correct for your story? Okay? All right? Alright?
I have no idea when people started saying okay. I could look it up, but never have because I use it in contemporary and not in historical. My fantasies tend to take place in a pre-industrial society, so I don't use okay in my fantasy character's speech.
There are dictionaries that tell you when a word began to pop up in a culture. So if you are writing a historical, check to see if words (not just okay) were being used back in the time which is part of the setting of your story..

Alright is colloquial and is okay for use in informal speech because we speak with less formality in most situations. The visual alright cues the reader of the relaxed nature of the interchange.

I can't bring myself to use alright, even in speech. Just fussy, I guess.

All right should be used at all times in narrative. (That's the bit between the bits of dialogue.)

Now how do you feel about the distinctions between the three words? Are you okay with this? Does it seem all right? "Alright, I guess you're good to go."


  1. I think "all right" is correct in narrative, of course, or in speech where it has the meaning that everything is in place or is as it should be. "The accident was minor, and we are all right." But, being a southerner...I think "alright" needs to be used in certain dialog places. When it's used as a lead-in, such as the last sentence in your post. You're not saying anything about the state of things, it's just a random word to fill space. And of course, you can go with the Ace Ventura version..."Alrighty then..." :D

  2. I think "all right" is the best option for narrative writing and most dialogue, depending on the character and the time of the setting.
    You've raised some good points in this post.
    I just found an "untimely" type error in one of my stories today when I mentioned "adrenaline" in a pre-industrial fantasy setting. Oops. I'm pretty sure that without our current medical knowledge, that adrenaline "rush" kind of feeling would be described differently. Now I just have to figure out how to describe it to fit my character's situation.

  3. I was pretty much threatened with being struck by lightning if I ever used "alright" when I was a kid, so I've never used it! I will use "okay" in dialogue if it's a contemporary scene. For narrative I use "all right."

    I was also well schooled in the unspeakable evil of turning "a lot" into "alot." Never do that one, either!

  4. No one knows for sure when people started saying "OK," but this site has some ideas: