Of all the expressions I regularly come across in the writing of amateur or student writers, all right
produces perhaps the most surprising results. Growing up, I had always tacitly assumed that almost all reasonably educated people knew how to render this phrase. The growing popularity of the Internet, though, as well as further life experience (for example, with amateur and undergraduate writers), has given me ample evidence to the contrary.
In his New Fowler's Modern English Usage,
R. W. Burchfield claims, "The use of all right
, or inability to see that there is anything wrong with alright
, reveals one's background, upbringing, education, etc., perhaps as much as any word in the language" (43). Burchfield was writing in 1996; in 2006, in the United States at least, I would assert that the social and educational distinction is beginning to break down. But, as Burchfield notes, alright
is "hardly ever [used] by writers of standing," and that statement definitely still applies, whether you're writing in England or America. So if you aspire to a future as a well reputed writer--or just want to employ decent usage--stick with all right