“Playing right field, number 18, Shane Victorino!”
You know what happens next. The sound system thunders out the Flyin’ Hawaiian’s walk-up music. Then thousands of voices unite to sing along with Bob Marley, the familiar refrain, “Every little thing is gonna be alright!”
But wait! Is it alright? Or is it all right? And with this potential grammar gaff–can anything be all right or alright ever again? This is a job for … Grammar Man!
The Case of All Sorts of Confusion
Grammar man is nothing if not efficient. In today’s episode, the crusader will tackle three sets of confusing words in one fell-swoop. There’s all together (two words) versus altogether (one word), all ready (two words) versus already (one), and finally the aforementioned all right (two words) versus alright (not even a word at all). Oops! Have I let the cat out of the bag? Truth be told, this is one of Grammar Man’s pet peeves. Makes his eye twitch. That sort of thing.
Shall we begin by tackling the words that are really words, first? Methinks!
All together (two words) and altogether (one word) are real words with different definitions. So sorting out confusion here is as easy as understanding definition for context. All together means collectively assembled. The crowd sang Shane Victorino’s walk-up song all together. See? Here’s a trick that will help: When the words all together are called for, you can separate them in the sentence and it still makes sense. The crowd all sang Shane Victorino’s walk-up song together.
The one word version has a different definition. It means entirely. The turkey wasn’t altogether done. Oh no! Don’t eat raw turkey. You’ll get worms! And, referring back to the trick, you can’t break this word into two. All the turkey wasn’t together done. Say what? I’m not sure what that means, but I think I’ll stick with a salad.
All ready and already are very similar to the all together and altogether example above. Start with definitions. All ready speaks of preparedness. Already speaks of time past. And with these two words the same separating trick applies. The turkey is all ready to eat. Cooked through. Carving knives, please? All the turkey is ready to eat. Got it. Heard you the first time. Already? Not so much. The turkey is gone already? All the turkey is gone ready? Aha!
Now to tackle the greatest villain of them all: alright. Grammar Man is a purist at heart. Though society may sway, your wordsmith hero stands firm for the cause. Alright is not a word. All right is the real deal. It is true that alright has gained acceptance in pop culture. Do you remember when you were younger and you’d say “ain’t” and someone would tell you that ain’t ain’t a word? Well, it isn’t, and to prove it, Grammar Man’s grammar checker just rejected it. Ha! Popular use should not a word make. The fact that some have added ain’t to their dictionary … Egads!
Regardless, alright is not a word. Neither is irregardless. Another peeve for another time. All right means satisfactory or okay. All right?
So, when you’re at Fenway and Shane Victorino heads to the plate, make sure you sing really loud, “Every little thing is gonna be ALL RIGHT!” –and correct those around you who sing it wrong!
Irregardless? Are you kidding me? Next time. Grammar Man needs an aspirin.