As the English language evolves (and we start to learn grammar from text messaging), more words that aren't actually words worm their way into our lexicon. Sometimes we embrace the change (“okay,” believe it or not, was not always an acceptable word), and sometimes we send it back to the pits of hell (ask any grammar enthusiast about “irregardless”).
I'm spotlighting two examples of not-actually-words today: alright and alot.
Why Alright is All Right
Alright is technically not a word. The correct form is “all right,” as in that movie from summer 2010 with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a couple raising Mark Ruffalo's biological kids.
But increasingly, “alright” is used in a more casual writing context, like in written dialogue or in that quick email you sent off to your sister about coming home for Memorial Day. The English language is sort of fine with that.
But if you're writing anything more formal, you're better off using “all right” to avoid condemnation from your superiors.
Why Alot is A Lot of Wrong
Alot is a completely different story. My automatic spell-checker on my word processor wouldn't let it sit there without compulsively separating it into its rightful two-word form.
It's universally accepted that “a lot” is always two words, and if you need further proof, this post about alot should serve as a reminder of why we don't blend those two words.
Take fifteen minutes and write about a pair of texting addicts. Use “a lot” and “all right” appropriately throughout, and post your finished practice in the comments. Don't forget to read the work of your fellow writers. 🙂
Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.