I was reading this Tim Dorsey book, and I remembered a while back when a friend corrected my usage, “all of the/a sudden.”

“That’s not a real construction,” he said with finality.

Even though I don’t remember the ensuing conversation, there is still one taking place in my head to this day. So I’ve looked into it.

A cursory search of Wikipedia produced nothing but the fifth studio album by singer-songwriter, John Hiatt. Most of my other queries turned up snooty corrections, such as

I hate when people say all of THEE sudden. It’s all of AY sudden!

I suppose if you pronounce the E long as in pee and the A long as in acorn, perhaps the distinction should be enforced. But nobody talks like that. Most people say either “all of uh sudden” or “all of thuh sudden.” 

Aside from quibbles over articles, “sudden” used to be a noun three or four hundred years ago, but this usage is archaic today. The OED even calls it obsolete. And why not use “suddenly”? If you really must, that is. Reader, I don’t want to give anyone the idea that you should  accentuate your stories with “suddenly” every couple pages. 

But since we can’t keep ourselves from saying, publishing or broadcasting it, let it be named! To wit: The Genitive of the Sudden

(yes, the bold is intended to make it look legitimate)

Advertisements