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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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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
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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
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6 Answers

up vote 7 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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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
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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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I find this:

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

in PHRASES.ORG.UK

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"Aall THE sudden" articalizes SUDDEN and creates a noun, ensconsing the moment as an object of history. In the venacular, particularly among street language all-the-sudden which implies surprize all-the-sudden signals brevity make BIG sense

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