We’ve got Dave Mason to thank for today’s grammar tidbit. Mason, an English singer-songwriter of exceptional talent, has played with many well-known bands, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac, along with being a off-and-on member of the group Traffic.
It was in this role, in 1968, that Mason penned “Feelin’ Alright,” for Traffic’s self-titled album. Joe Cocker had a hit with the song the next year, and even the Jackson 5 and Gladys Knight and the Pips got in on the action with their own versions years later.
But I’m not feelin’ very “alright” about the spelling. Nothing against Dave, or Joe, or anyone else who belted out the lyrics. It’s just that “alright” isn’t a word – it’s one of those goofy shortcuts that came about from who knows where almost a century ago.
“All right” is the proper spelling. As in:
It’s not all right that a North Carolina woman took out her frustration on a vending machine by setting it on fire. (Strange, but true.)
Interestingly, I tested the theory of “alright” vs. “all right” on a Microsoft Word document, deliberately using the incorrect spelling. The spell checker didn’t highlight this blooper, leaving me to wonder. Several dictionaries I consulted acknowledged that “alright” is commonly used, but that “all right” is the more formal approach.
So…things being the way they are, we can thank Dave Mason for a great song, but for those people who insist on using “alright, I guess “We Just Disagree”!