Alot, Alright, Already, Altogether…

You’re just writing away, when suddenly you hesitate: should it be “alright” or “all right”? You probably feel like you’ve seen it both ways before, but which one is actually correct? These words are so often misspelled, many people don’t even realize that not all of them are proper English.


Although there is a very cute webcomic creature known as an Alot, this mashed-up word has no place in an English paper. The most straight-forward of the three to explain, the phrase “a lot” is two words, every time.


Similarly, the word “alright” is simply “alwrong”. “All right” is a phrase meaning that something is ok or acceptable (e.g. “the food wasn’t good or bad; it was just all right”). It can also be used more literally if you want to say perhaps that someone’s answers to a quiz were “all right”, as in “all correct”. However, in neither case would you use “alright”. Although this form is very often seen in casual writing, it is not generally considered proper English and should not be used in academic or business settings.


In contrast, “already” and “all ready” are both proper English but have different meanings. The first one is about time, as in “They went to the park already.” It happened in the past. On the other hand, “all ready” means to be prepared. “They are all ready to go to the park.” If you should use two words, then you will be able to move the “all” and “ready” apart and it will still make sense. For exmaple, “They all are ready to go to the park.” Since it works, you know it is safe to use the two word phrase. However, if we try this trick with the time example, “They all went to the park ready,” then it doesn’t make sense. (“Ready for what?” you might feel like asking.)


“Altogether” and “all together” are also both valid but with different meanings. “Altogether” means “overall” or “completely”. If something is “altogether worth seeing”, then it is interesting overall and you should take the time to go see it. This word has a bit of a colloquial feel, however. “All together” instead means everyone, at the same time. You could say, for example, “We went to see the play all together.” The meaning here is that everyone went in one group. As with “all ready”, you can move the “all” away from “together” if it is correct to use the two word phrase. For the previous example, this would read, “We all went to see the play together.” It works reasonably, whereas if you try to break “altogether” you might get, “That all is together worth seeing,” which just doesn’t make sense.


So, to recap, “alot” and “alright” are not words. If you remember that furry creature every time you see the word “alot” it might help you remember this term is not English. Likewise, “alright” is “alwrong” — don’t use it! For “already/all ready” and “altogether/all together” you can test the situation by trying to break the words apart. If you can and the sentence still makes sense, then you should.

Let’s practice!

Part 1: choose the right form, (a) already or (b) all ready, to fill the blank in the sentences below. Check your answers at the end of the page.

  1. I ___ told him the directions.
  2. Ok, we’re ___ to hit the road!
  3. Are you ___ to learn about English?
  4. I ___ know all those tricky vocabulary words.
  5. We’re ___ to try something new.

Part 2: now choose the right form between (a) altogether and (b) all together to complete the next set of sentences.

  1. I don’t like traveling alone; I’d rather go ___.
  2. Well, that is ___ fantastic.
  3. If you’re ___, just give me a call and I’ll join you.
  4. It’s ___ unfair that she got to skip the exam.
  5. I think it ___ fitting that the family spend the holiday together.

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Part 1: 1.a 2.b 3.b 4.a 5.b
Part 2: 1.b 2.a 3.b 4.a 5.a

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