Boy, Thursdays seem to roll around quickly! Time for me to put on my English teacher's hat.
Today I'd like to begin a discussion of words that can present special challenges to writers. There are some words that we use often and easily in conversation; they just seem to roll off our tongues. So we use them in our writing, too, but they don't roll off our fingertips quite so easily.
A prime example of this is the term "a lot," meaning a large amount or often. We use this term a lot, don't we? (Sorry. I couldn't resist.) It really is a useful term. You should know that it is TWO words: a lot. It's not "alot." That's not a word. Now, "allot" is a word; it's a verb meaning "to divide into portions," but it doesn't give us much trouble.
If you're talking and someone is listening, they'll never know if you say "alot" or "a lot." But if you're writing, you should know that the correct way to write this expression is "a lot." Two separate words.
The same thing is true for the expression "all right." This is the correct spelling of the term, although you may often see "alright."
Now the question of the day: does it matter? Well, that's really for you to decide. I'll state my thinking on grammar once again: grammar is simply a tool for using language, and the purpose of language is communication. If you write "alot" or "alright," your readers are probably still going to understand what you're saying. So I wouldn't put these errors at the top of the list of importance. But if you're writing something that you need to make sure is just right, you should know the correct spelling. When I learn the proper use of a word, I like to make a habit of using it correctly, even in settings where it may not seem to matter. After all, it takes no more time to write words correctly than to write them incorrectly!
As always, please let me know if you have a specific question about English grammar. I'll be happy to help if I can!