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According to Google (63 million results), it should be all of the sudden, though, 22 million results say otherwise, which one is correct?

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closed as off-topic by Janus Bahs Jacquet, Mari-Lou A, tchrist, Robusto, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 16 '14 at 20:58

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – Janus Bahs Jacquet, Mari-Lou A, tchrist, Robusto, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

First, Google results numbers are extremely unreliable. Second, try searching with quotes around the phrase and you'll find a different story (I got 11 million for "a sudden" and 6 million for "the sudden"). – mmyers Mar 20 '11 at 4:24
And third, I have seen the word "sudden" too much in a short time span and it has now lost all meaning for me. I hate it when that happens. – mmyers Mar 20 '11 at 4:26
perhaps "suddenly" is a better option? – BlackTigerX Mar 21 '11 at 14:41
I don't believe this should be categorized as off-topic. Google brought me here as the first search result for "all of a sudden vs all of the sudden," so it seems english.stackexchange has become the de facto reference. – Eric Aug 12 '15 at 15:53
up vote 11 down vote accepted

"All of a sudden" is the idiom. I rationalize that there is no particular sudden, so it has to be a sudden.

Brians Common Errors backs me up here, although idioms don't necessarily follow the rules of grammar anyway.

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Each one of those 63 million results says that all of the sudden doesn't really make any sense.

The idiom

All of a sudden : very quickly and unexpectedly, suddenly.

A sample sentence would be

I felt a sharp pain in my side all of a sudden.

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I find this:

If we go back beyond Shakespeare the variant 'the sudden' was commonplace; for example, ...


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Because when you say the phrase really fast the words get presses together and it can sound like you are saying 'the' sudden. So that is why people start saying it the wrong way.

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The question is "Which one is correct?" - and Why? Please answer the question. – TrevorD Aug 10 '13 at 16:22
I was answering the other,much more hidden question: why do 22 million google search results contradict the other 63 million search results? This question, although not spelled out, is inherent to the original question and I must say that no one else took the time out like I did to try to solve it. The solution is this: people slur their words together and so therefore it has created another way of saying the original phrase. And this would be the answer as to why the Google outcome has mixed results. I am glad to have added something new to this conversation. Thank you. – Julie Aug 11 '13 at 10:04
Then please make your answers clearer. Note the the FAQ: Answer the question Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. ... Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better. Also, please incorporate the additional info into your answer as comments are transient. – TrevorD Aug 11 '13 at 16:13
You didn't answer the Question. If you have something to say but you're not answering the Question, you should add a Comment, not an Answer. – pabrams May 2 at 23:52

Generally suddenly expresses exactly the same meaning and is more elegant.

If you must use it, I agree that all of a sudden is the correct usage.

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It took all of 10 years to build that bridge. The 10 years is non specific.

If the 10 years was specified previously: The schedule allowed 10 years to build the bridge, then you could reference it thusly: It took all of the 10 years to build it.


If your sudden is previously specified, you could reference it as "the sudden":

"The wink of his eye happened in a sudden moment. All of the sudden the other eye blinked."

Otherwise, the non-specific "a sudden" should be used.

"All of a sudden, it made perfect sense."

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This is logical enough, but idiom trumps logic. “All of the sudden” is simply not the idiom. Then again, logically, when something happens suddenly, the sudden in (or of) which it happens is by definition a new one—you cannot predefine a sudden and then populate it afterwards, except humorously: “All of a sudden, he winked—but he did it so vigorously that all of the sudden was pregnant with his wink”, for example, is possible, but quite strange. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 16 '14 at 17:20
I was simply backing the correct idiom : ) – Dave May 16 '14 at 17:35
A sudden is rarely, if ever, previously specified. – Dave May 16 '14 at 17:37

protected by tchrist May 16 '14 at 19:59

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