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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

all _____ sudden

Is it regional to use “all of a sudden” versus “all the sudden?” The former sounds more correct to me.

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I grew up in central Virginia. Said and heard 'all of a sudden' all my life--until I was about 55 and living in Los Angeles where a co-worker, originally from Arkansas, and I got into a (not acrimonious) debate about 'all of a sudden' vs. 'all the sudden'. I got to this site doing research on vernacular for a story I'm writing. Thanks for a great discussion!

janellrcarter Mar-03-2010

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Who was the linguistically lazy individual who decided to call a new and startling announcement "the big reveal"? Until perhaps 2 years ago, those who read and had a fair vocabulary called an exciting bit of news "a revelation". I didn't think that was too big a word for most of us to use and understand. What's next? Someone whom we have always commended as having great 'determination'....would she or he now be said to have a "lot of determine"? Nails on a chalkboard.

namimommy2008 Mar-04-2010

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So let's see... "All the sudden" is used by a small number of uneducated types in the American South and Midwest and in the northern UK. That's quite a lot of land mass, but still, everyone knows these are the uneducated parts of the English-speaking world. If you search Google for variants of this expression, you'll find that "all the sudden" is the most common, followed by "all of the sudden", and finally "all of a sudden". This is to be expected, since users of the Internet are typically uneducated.

jones Mar-29-2010

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I never heard "all the sudden" until I started watching the Soaps and I could not believe my ears--lately, I've heard it used by major news anchors. I think the deterioration of our language in the past 20 years is horrible. Worse than the nitwits who say, "All the sudden," are those who spice every other word with "like." For example, "LIKE, on Tuesday I went to the store, and LIKE I met my friends who LIKE wanted to go to the movies and LIKE we bought popcorn and LIKE threw up, it was so, LIKE salty." Like, YUCK!

printzessdea Jul-29-2010

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Dorothea, you know what's even worse? When "like" is used, not as an interjective, but in place of the word "said":

"...and I like, 'what should we do today?' And he like, 'I dunno.' And I like, 'ya wanna go to the mall?' And he like, 'yeah, ok.'..."

porsche Jul-29-2010

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Oooo, that IS worse. I don't recall if I've ever realized the omission of "said" when using "like" because as soon as I hear "like" used improperly, I turn off.

printzessdea Jul-29-2010

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There is nothing in the destruction of the English language that has bugged me more in 2010 than the use of the verb REVEAL as a noun. "The big reveal!" keeps punctuating people's speech, from the loud m.c.'s on the duller-witted of the TV game shows to shallow characters on the soap operas. E.g., "Is Carol's baby daddy the biological father of her child or not? Tune in Friday for "the big reveal".
Since when is "revelation" too tough a word for the general public to understand? What will happen to the Bible--will the last book of the New Testament have to be re-named "The Big Reveal"?

namimommy2008 Jul-29-2010

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I'm sorry to inform Patricia that the English languages has been destroyed for a long time: the noun "reveal" means "that part of the side of a doorway or window opening between the frame and the arris", first cited in 1666. With the meaning "a final revelation of something previously kept from an audience", it dates from 1975.

goofy Jul-29-2010

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All of you idiots who think 'all the sudden' is correct, or should be correct, haven't read many books - or you have zero understanding of the English language. You can't just string together a bunch of words and assume people know what you're trying to say.
Are you the same group of people who say, "where you at?" and think it's correct?

thenotoriousrob77 Oct-17-2010

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Kipling truncated the idiom to "of a sudden." I suspect, Slobby, he'd read a book.

dogreed Oct-18-2010

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The OED says "all of a sudden" first appeared in 1681. This is 200 years before the sub-par author and poet, Kipling, was born. Try again, greed.

thenotoriousrob77 Oct-18-2010

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Hmm. Just to be contrary, I'm going to start saying, "all at a sudden", as in several things happening at one moment, all at once. How's that for nails on a chalkboard? lol

girlnblack77 Oct-19-2010

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Slobby: what's your point? That Kipling meddled with the idiom merely illustrates its malleability. I'm not a fan of "all the sudden." I never said I was. It ain't entirely grammatical, but if it's a regional idiom leave it alone, it does no real harm. English won't die from diversity.

dogreed Oct-21-2010

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Apparently "of a sudden" comes out of Shakespeare. The phrase "all of a sudden" is a derivative of that. "Of a sudden" is a preposition, "a sudden" referring to a nondefinite noun. "The sudden" is a definite noun, thus changing the implications of the phrase. If one means to say "All of the sudden," it is only grammatically correct to say "All the sudden" if "sudden" is somehow a plural noun. Which it is not.

"Sudden" refers to a sense of time. The time is "a sudden." Did the action take place over the course of "all of a day" or "all of a sudden?" Why, it happened all of a sudden!

It is still an idiom, but "all of a sudden" is proper.

xoxcinnamonsugar Nov-19-2010

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I grew up in south-central Illinois with parents originally from farming families. I only knew of "all the sudden" until I saw "all of a sudden" in print, which looked odd to me. Yes, if I were drafting a formal document I would use "suddenly," but I don't see any point in harping over this detail in speech.

Also, I grew up reading quite a bit, despite coming from a blue-collar town in the dreaded Midwest. Many of you on this board really need to tone down your judgment. Regional dialect and colloquialisms are a delight if you can put down your snob shield and breathe them in. Relax. You don't have to join. Just observe and appreciate that not everyone talks just like you.

max.von.sydow.as.ming Dec-20-2010

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Just because it's regional, doesn't mean it's OK. I've heard a lot of people say, "I would of..." instead of, "I would have..." - true, it might be regional thing, but I still like to know the CORRECT way of saying things so I don't sound like a moron.
As a well read (allegedly) individual, you surely can appreciate the fact that authors actually use editors to fix their regional dialect issues, so their poor English isn't passed along.

thenotoriousrob77 Dec-20-2010

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Slobby, 10 to 1, you also PRONOUNCE "would of" and "would've" exactly the same. "Woulda" gets its own star!

What you are really worried about is orthography, when "would've" is the correct form. "Would of" needs to be fixed by an editor for formal writing. I agree that these mistakes need to be corrected for academic/professional writing.

Though I never claimed to be well read, Slobby, I must caution you to be more cautious with your own orthography.

Case in point: "well read (allegedly) individual"

You need to hyphenate WELL-READ because it precedes a noun (individual). If the combination does not precede a noun, no hyphen.

I don't want you to look like a moron.

max.von.sydow.as.ming Dec-21-2010

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I might pronounce it 'would've,' but I would never write 'would of.' You grew up saying, 'all the sudden,' so chances are, you would write, 'all the sudden.' My point with 'would of' is that people today are writing what they hear.

'All the sudden' is wrong, I don't care how low-rent you are.

thenotoriousrob77 Dec-21-2010

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Please, Slobby, leave personal attacks out of it, especially when they are directed in the form of a run-on sentence. (Proofread your parting shot regarding my low-rent status: your comma should be replaced by a period or at least a semi-colon.)

In fact, take a second look at your initial volley: "Just because it's regional, doesn't mean it's OK." In addition to being a sentence fragment (using a dependent clause as a subject), you've diced it up even more by plugging in a comma before the verb. Ouch! You're writing just like you're speaking.

I agree. People frequently write language in the same way that they hear and speak it. I also agree that they often need editors to help clean up the results.

Can we concur on the points that you've illustrated with your own writing and let it rest? I really just came here to find out the distinctions between the various expressions that mean "suddenly," not to engage in class warfare.

max.von.sydow.as.ming Dec-21-2010

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Whatevs, Shakespeare.

Slobby wins.

thenotoriousrob77 Dec-21-2010

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I just stumbled upon this thread, and find it hilarious! I love grammar and our wonderful, fluid language, and I admit that I, too, cringe at obvious gaffes such as "lie" and "lay". Those two words are so misused even by educated people that I've given up. Compared to this and other errors such as "I've got to...", "irregardless", and the painful "bring" and "take" dilemma, I find the "all of a/the sudden" argument amusing. Not silly, mind you; it's always refreshing to find English speakers who care enough to defend the language.
However, some of you are just plain nasty! Personal attacks do not attest to the attacker's intelligence or class. If it's about "winning" something, play tennis or watch football!

vwmoll Dec-31-2010

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I actually posted on this discussion thread back in 2007 with statistics showing that the phrase "all of a sudden" clearly dominates in the number of hits on Google compared to "all of the sudden", but a resounding 3:1 ratio.

Checking back four years later, a Google search reveals:

"All of the sudden" - 47 million hits
"All of a sudden" - 20.4 million hits
"All the sudden" - 7 million hits

Within the short period of just a few years, it appears (based on this one data point) common usage of the phrase has decisively switched to the other side! That does not answer the question of whether one version is "correct" or not, but it certainly shows usage of "all of the sudden" is widespread...and trending towards dominant. It would be interesting if anyone did some studies on colloquial phrases, similar to how Rick Aschmann did some really interesting studies and maps on American English Dialects (look it up, it's worth checking out).

As for me, I have always used "all of the sudden" for all my 40 years in various states; whenever I hear "all of a sudden", it sounds extremely odd, similar to whenever I hear someone speak a double-negative (e.g. "I don't have no money"). Just the way I've always heard and spoke the phrase since I was a wee lad.

mlh Apr-26-2011

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Both COULD make sense, though using "a" is more correct.
The original version of this term was, "in all of a sudden," meaning, it happened in one sudden moment, all of it. So saying it happened in all of a sudden does indeed make sense. "In all of the sudden" sounds rather stupid, is pretty silly, and doesn't really make sense. THE sudden, referring to the "sudden" it happened, if it was really just a sudden-- or rather, THE sudden is just a butchering of English.
"All the sudden," don't even.
I live in Wisconsin and hear both versions, though "all of the sudden, this happened" is a huge pet peeve of mine and I only REALLY hear it from this stupid 16-year-old boy failing out of school named Jake.
Though I'm 17, turning 18 in three months.

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Alicia1 Jun-24-2011

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@ MLH:

I just googled the first two, "all of a sudden" and "all of the sudden". I got 36 million for both of them. You should note, however, that the first page of results for "all of the sudden" are websites discussing why "all of the sudden" is wrong. So, maybe the reason "all of the sudden" has risen in google popularity is simply that it is being more widely criticized. Of course, I didn't check through all 36 million results!

porsche Jun-26-2011

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OMG..AND YES, I AM GOING TO USE ALL CAPS...I'M SO SICK TO DEATH OF PEOPLE SAYING "ALL THE SUDDEN" INSTEAD OF THE CORRECT "ALL OF A SUDDEN"!!!! HAVEN'T THESE PEOPLE EVER READ A BOOK OR TWO??? HOW DID THEY GET BY IN SCHOOL??? I REMEMBER HAVING TO WRITE BOOK REPORTS AND OTHER SCHOOL RELATED MATERIAL...AND.SEEING AND USING THE PHRASE "ALL OF A SUDDEN" IN MY SCHOOL WORK. SOMETIMES I GET SO ANGRY, I CAN'T EVEN FINISH WATCHING A GOOD SHOW! OH, AND BY THE WAY, WHEN YOU ARE WRITING "I'M HAVING A PARTY ON SATURDAY" NOT "I'M HAVEING A PARTY ON SATURDAY"... COMEING...HAVEING..TAKEING..... TAKE THE 'E' OFF BEFORE ADDING "ING"...WHY HAVEN'T THEIR FAMILY OR FRIENDS CORRECTED THEM??? I WOULD BE SO EMBARRASSED IF I WAS GOING AROUND SAYING OR SPELLING EASY WORD INCORRECTLY.....UGH!!!!! THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY IS A COMPLETE JOKE....AND EVERYONE THAT USES A COMPUTER HAS SPELL CHECK...WHEN THE WORD YOU TYPE HAS A RED LINE UNDERNEATH IT, IT MEANS YOU HAVE SPELLED IT WRONG!....GOOGLE IT IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO SPELL SOMETHING, INSTEAD OF LOOKING FOOLISH.

Jade Jul-02-2011

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I'm a voracious reader, a habit that has only intensified since I got my Kindle a couple of years ago. I try to stick with the free and very cheap books and so am scraping the bottom of the Kindle barrel. However, the Kindle freebie I'm reading now is a police thriller in which "all the sudden" appears frequently. At first, I thought it was the typical poor editing problem one finds in many Kindle freebies. However, this book is surprisingly well-written, with accurate literary and historical references and free of the jarring grammar, spelling, and plotting errors. That's why I came here to see where "all the sudden" comes from. The setting is post-Katrina Houston with some references to New Orleans, and the author's name is Bertrand. So I'm thinking the Acadian connection might be right.

Kristin1 Jul-04-2011

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In many parts of England, people pronounce "th" as "v" (brother=brovah). Also, "all of a sudden" when spoken quickly, sounds like "all va sudden." So, the English bastardization makes sense.
Language morphs over time, usually due to laziness. So, like it or not, "all the sudden" is likely to replace "all of a sudden" because it is slightly easier to say.
I could point the prevalence of "all the sudden" in southern states as evidence of this, but that might be perceived as a jab at their litteracy or work ethic, so I will refrain.

mrcaleb Dec-19-2011

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Wilkie Collins uses "all on a sudden" in The Woman in White. Check it out on Google. Use Google and search "books" using the term "all on a sudden". Google will correct your search to "all of a sudden", but click on the tab that says, "search instead for all on a sudden" and you'll get it.

I've seen this elsewhere, but I can't remember exactly where.

Hairy Dec-19-2011

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The incorrect usage of this phrase drives me crazy! Oh--and may I add to the list "fustrated" and "supposably?"

Sspurser Mar-10-2012

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I don't want to sound proscriptive, but it seems to me that even idioms must have standard forms. My well educated linguist friends often argue with me about that, and tell me that language is an evolving thing, etc. I get that. I hear "a sudden" and "the sudden" with about equal frequency where I live, and so I just tried a little experiment- I called a few friends (fiive in all) who I know to be responsible for interviewing and hiring at their workplaces. I asked a simple question: "When making a tough hiring decision between two candidates, and (other things being equal), a potential employee uses the form "all of the sudden," and another uses the form "all of a sudden." Which would you hire?

Four "business-types" told me they would pick the "all of a sudden" candidate. When I asked why, they answered with varying degrees of articulate ness about it, but one answered very succinctly, " because it means he reads rather than watching TV."

The person who said it would matter was a college English Department chair, and given her non-proscriptivist leanings when it comes to standard forms, that shouldn't surprise me!

I can't speak to the global or national level use of forms of this idiom, but what I CAN say, is that where I live, if you want a job, the firm considered more standard in published works (all of a sudden) is a safer bet- unless you are applying as an English prof, and in that case, you may wind up debating this as PART of the interview.

JA Mar-18-2012

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Sorry- the line about the college Chairperson should have read, "...the only person who said it wouldn't matter..."

JA Mar-18-2012

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I also realize I meant to write "...non-prescriptivist leanings..." as well. I should really proofread more- especially posting in a grammar forum!

JA Mar-18-2012

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Wow! What an arrogant society we live in. The correct phrase is, "all of the sudden," it means suddenly (in the sudden moment of time). It is an adverbial phrase. If you have a phrase, "all of a sudden" it must mean (in a sudden moment of time). When speaking of a specific moment of time, does your usage of English allow you to say, "in a moment of time?" Mine doesn't because that phrase is used to refer to how long something takes, or how long something took. It does, however, allow me to say, "in the moment of time" referring to a particular moment. So, we say, "all of the sudden," not "all of a sudden." I have often suspected that, "all of a sudden" was a somewhat ignorant attempt to repeat the phrase, "all of the sudden." After reading these posts, I can see it has gained approval and acceptance and is viable in today's English. Fortunately, language, unlike nature, actually does evolve. Unlike the fossil records, we can look at the linguistic records and find evidence of how and sometimes why it changed over time. We live in a backward society. We think language should be treated as exact, but that it is okay to believe in a theory driven science (but, of course, that is part of another battle).

BillB Jun-07-2012

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@BillB ... You should try looking in a wordbook before making such pronouncements.

From M-W: — all of a sudden also on a sudden
: sooner than was expected : at once
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sudden

From the Oxford Dictionary Online:
Phrases
(all) of a sudden
suddenly: I feel really tired all of a sudden
on a sudden
archaic way of saying all of a sudden.
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sudden

If that isn't enuff ... try Google ngrams: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=all+of+a+sudden%2C+all+of+the+sudden&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

AnWulf Jun-08-2012

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I had a lot of fun reading these posts!

My husband and I just had a "discussion" about which phrase is correct, so I ended up here. We both grew up in Chicago and somehow we ended up saying it differently. Now I have to survey my friends and coworkers just for fun. I really don't see why people are getting so angry about "a" vs. "the" when we should be more worried about the rampant use of the word "heighth."

Grammarlynn Sep-14-2012

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I know what I say. I have never noticed it spoken or written in a way that would have conflicted with what I say. But for the first time ever, I was corrected for writing all of the sudden, and now, I'm sure I'm going to notice this every time I see or hear it.

maria1 Dec-17-2012

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I've never even heard of this "all the sudden" or "all of the sudden" foolishness. The idiom is "all of a sudden". If you disagree, then you are stupid and deserve to be assaulted by apes and lizards. That is all.

Tavius Lord of Grammar Feb-14-2014

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MyLord,
"All the sudden" comes up in the London Magazine from 1738 and "all of the sudden" in John Dryden.
Try googling the phrases.

jayles Feb-15-2014

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@jayles: nice try

London Magazine 1738 - unfortunately Google Books has combined phrases from two adjacent columns -

L "are liable to so many Changes and to such sudden and unlooked for Alterations"
R "that his Majesty should communicate all the Secrets of his Cabinet"

to give:

"that his to so many Changes, and to such Majesty should communicate all the sudden and unlooked for Alterations, Secrets of his Cabinet"

But even if that was what they had written, 'sudden' here would be an adjective and not part of this particular idiom.

Searching Google Books for ' "all of the sudden" john dryden' brings up two quotes:

"All of the sudden she fell into the agony of death"

"[who] made the step to Popery all of the sudden, without any previous instruction or conference"

But it turns out that neither of these are from Dryden. The first is from an article on the 'controversy between Dryden and Stillingfeet' , possibly by Sir Walter Scot, published in a book of Dryden's poetry. The second is also quoted in a book of Dryden's poetry, but turns out to be from a book on the Stuarts by (Bishop) Gilbert Burnet, published in 1688, referring to the Earl of Sunderland, one of James II's advisers. A rather interesting contemporary account of the fall of James II, as it happens.

http://books.google.pl/books?id=6_xCAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA756&lpg=PA756&dq=%22made+the+step+to+Popery+all+of+the+sudden%22&source=bl&ots=QUT3XTmYEh&sig=8UTQXgZ3T91zllaV6OwrmmG7jk8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qy3_UsqyFtGThge3zYGgCA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22made%20the%20step%20to%20Popery%20all%20of%20the%20sudden%22&f=false

On the other hand, Dryden does seem to have a penchant for:"on a sudden":

"Ten times more gentle than your Father's cruel, How on a sudden all my Griefs are vanish'd!"

"all on a sudden there broke out terrible Thunders and fiery Flashes"

"and that by which Leonidas, after being carried off to execution, on a sudden snatches a sword from one of the guards, proclaims himself rightful king"

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22all%20the%20sudden%22&tbs=bks:1,cdr:1,cd_min:1600,cd_max:1868&lr=lang_en#lr=lang_en&q=%22on+a+sudden%22+john+dryden&tbas=0&tbm=bks&tbs=lr:lang_1en

A look at Ngram suggests that 'all of the sudden' had a little flourish around 1700, but these two alternative versions were rather short lived.

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22all%20of%20the%20sudden%22&tbs=bks:1,cdr:1,cd_min:1679,cd_max:1723&lr=lang_en

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=all+the+sudden%2Call+of+the+sudden%2Call+of+a+sudden&year_start=1600&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Call%20the%20sudden%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Call%20of%20the%20sudden%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Call%20of%20a%20sudden%3B%2Cc0

Warsaw Will Feb-15-2014

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Correction - Burnet's book was published in 1724

Warsaw Will Feb-15-2014

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@jayles - I should have put a smiley after 'nice try'. I didn't mean it in a negative way.

Warsaw Will Feb-17-2014

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@WW evidently failed to convert. How about:
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/all-of-a-sudden.html

jayles Feb-17-2014

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@WW Can't remember Dryden but didn't Donne go like:

What did we do till we googled?

For God's sake hold your tongue and let me google...

jayles Feb-17-2014

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I wonder by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we googled? and texted?

jayles Feb-17-2014

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@jayles - had a far healthier life, no doubt. From your Grammarphobia link -' “All of a sudden” first appeared in 1681' - now there's a challenge for us Googlers:

"therefore all of a sudden they came with great violence unto Aaron, urging him to make them one" - Seven Godlie and Frvitfvll Sermons, 1614

"for Antichrists apostacy was not at the highest all of a sudden, but encreased by flow (slow) paces" - David Pareus, 1644

"He tells him what a disgrace it would be for him, if without order of law he should ( all of a sudden) bring so man Noblemen to the scaffold without a crime" - The History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus - David Hume, 1644

Now I can answer your question - relied on the OED to give us earliest appearances. But nowadays, if it's into the printing era, we can often beat the OED, just by looking in Google Books.

http://www.google.pl/search?q=%22all+of+a+sudden%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-qkDU8fxD8Wx4wT1gIHIAw&ved=0CCAQpwUoBA&source=lnt&tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1%2F1%2F1500%2Ccd_max%3A12%2F31%2F1650&tbm=bks

Warsaw Will Feb-18-2014

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@jayles - and from your other link (phrasefinder) - " 'All of a sudden' sounds like the kind of poetic version of 'suddenly' that would do justice to Shakespeare. In fact, that's what Shakespeare thought too, as it was he who coined the phrase. In The Taming of the Shrew, circa 1596, we find: Is it possible That love should of a sodaine take such hold?"

So Shakespeare coined the phrase? Around 1596?

"Behold of a sodaine behinde me, I heard a rusling noyse, like the winde or beating of a Dragons winges" - Hypnerotomachia, the strife of love in a dreame - Francesco Colonna, ‎Robert Dallington - 1592 (no apostrophes in those days)

http://www.google.pl/search?q=%22of+a+sodaine%22&hl=en&biw=1018&bih=595&sa=X&ei=ZbADU-CpK6jw4QTcvoDwDg&ved=0CB4QpwUoBA&source=lnt&tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1%2F1%2F1500%2Ccd_max%3A12%2F31%2F1600&tbm=bks

Warsaw Will Feb-18-2014

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Shakespeare - sudden used as a noun:
on the sudden, upon the sudden - 8 instances
on a sudden, upon a sudden - 4 instances
of a sudden - 2 instances
none with all

It looks as though the 'the' version came first.

Warsaw Will Feb-18-2014

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@WW etymonline.com suggests :
upon the soden (1550s)
and this does show up as such on google, although I couldn't quite get an exact date earlier than 1591.

jayles Feb-18-2014

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@jayles- they probably got it from the OED (1558) - I've got 'upon the sudden' from 1585. I think you're much better looking at Google Books than Google as you can narrow down the dates and miss out all the dross.

Anyway I'm putting it all into a post, and will give details when finished. One thing is clear - 'on a sudden' carried on co-existing with 'all of a sudden' during the eihgteenth century.

OK I've found the 1558 one, but you can't get in to check

http://www.google.pl/search?q=%22upon+the+sudden%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OrYEU7m2Cer14QTakYDgAw&ved=0CB8QpwUoBA&source=lnt&tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1500%2Ccd_max%3A1600&tbm=bks#hl=en&q=%22upon+the+suddeyne%22&tbm=bks&tbs=cdr:1%2Ccd_min:1500%2Ccd_max:1600

Warsaw Will Feb-19-2014

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Sudden started to be used as a noun in the sixteenth century. At the time various expressions were used, with both 'a' and 'the', but without 'all' (there are none with 'all' in Shakespeare, for example).

'All on the sudden' was probably the first version with 'all', followed by 'all of a sudden' and 'all on a sudden', with a few examples of 'all on the sudden'. ' All of a sudden' fairly quickly became the standard, but apart from usage, I can see no reason why it is logically better than the others. Incidentally 'on a sudden' lasted well into the eighteenth century.

'All of the sudden' and 'all the sudden' seem to have caught on in a small way since the 1980's, but especially in the 2000s. I can't see any dialect basis for them, and they seem to have largely gone unnoticed, except by Brian Garner:

http://books.google.pl/books?id=FwmQpyibKkAC&pg=PA35&dq=%E2%80%9Call+of+the+sudden%E2%80%9D&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ctQDU-PXI-rN4QTxmoC4Aw&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9Call%20of%20the%20sudden%E2%80%9D&f=false

For my copiously illustrated history, see:

http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-origins-of-all-of-sudden.html

Warsaw Will Feb-22-2014

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I hear "all the sudden" in interviews on NPR. I agree with asheibar that such colloquialisms emerge because they are heard and passed on, but not seen in written text. It reminds me of the occasion someone had written on the blackboard, "It's a doggy dog world." Clearly, whoever wrote this had never seen the written version, "It's a dog eat dog world." Well, marzy dotes and dozey dotes and little lambsy divey" !

It does not bother me that colloquialisms emerge and colonize the language; what bothers me is that it seems that reading is becoming a quaint, anachronistic habit performed by backward looking people who haven't caught on that it's all in the tweet.

vgb Jun-29-2016

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I said " all of the sudden once", but it wasn't by purpose it was on accident

judyono Oct-02-2016

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Man, I have heard this "all the sudden" boo-caca from some TV personalities, and granted, they are only saying what they were taught to say by others around them, while growing up... BUT! it's supposed to be 'all of A sudden" being that 'a sudden' seems like it's being used as a noun... because it CAN be (and IS) used as a noun, i.e. "all of a sudden" ;) Truly it is used in it's correct and incorrect form... if you have to be anal about it (I am NOT saying that there's anything wrong with that btdubs), say something to the person that says it wrong... if you can live with it, then do.

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