Monday, September 8, 2014

Grammar Nerds: OK vs. okay


If you don't care much about grammar specifics, here's your warning that this series of posts won't interest you. However, I know plenty of fellow grammar nerd readers: people like me who feel thrown out of a good story by a misplaced comma or sudden tense shift.

Today's focus: OK vs. okay.

Both are acceptable uses. However, many grammar nerds like myself prefer one over the other and will passionately argue their selection. In terms of publications, OK vs. okay comes down to house style. Both appear in print and both are considered correct. It’s only a controversy among grammar nerds.

I prefer okay. I associate OK with texting. I also dislike seeing abbreviations in the middle of a sentence. Of course, the truth is that, while OK is indeed an abbreviation, it’s not an abbreviation of okay. OK dates surprisingly far back from the Old English phrase “oll korrekt” meaning “all correct.” Okay is a more recent evolution from the 1800s when people started spelling OK phonetically.

OK vs. okay is an unusual debate for me, because I often side with more traditional, old-fashioned grammatical approaches. This is one of the few cases where I opt for the more modern spelling. I suspect it’s mostly aesthetic. The capitalized OK looks tacky plopped in the middle of a sentence and always trips me up when reading. Okay might be a more modern development, but I think it reads much more pleasantly.

Do you prefer OK or okay? Why?

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