A Sudden Dispute

posted by Momo Fali on June 25, 2010

One of the best things about being a blogger is that I am my own editor. Some people may cringe (Hi, Amie!) when they see my run-on sentences, my poor punctuation and my-over-use-of-hyphens, but I don’t have to type right if I don’t want to. I realize this makes me sound like a child, but whatever. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t cringe when I read other blogs (come on, people, use your spell-check) or hear people say things like, “a-whole-nother”. Seriously. Kill me now.

Now, I need my readers to settle a dispute between me and two of my friends about a statement people frequently make. Here goes…

I say, “All of a sudden”. Keep in mind, the “a” does not come out like a Canadian, “eh”, but more of a Midwestern, “uh”. One of my friends says this makes me sound not Canadian, and not Midwestern, but rather West Virgina holler-like.

My friend Bean, says, “All the sudden”. I think this sounds Midwestern. We tend to leave out “of” and “to be”. Instead we say, “The car needs washed”. I am proud to be a corn-fed, Midwestern, but this just doesn’t sound right to me.

My friend Amy, says, “All of the sudden”. I still think it’s wrong, but I will give her extra credit for putting an “of” in there.

We have spent hours debating this. Please, people, settle this for me.

Tell them I’m right!

    Comments

  • Kat


    All of a sudden. I am from the south though.

  • Avitable


    The correct answer is . . .

    Suddenly.

    Although "All of a sudden" is also appropriate.

  • María


    LOL Adam stole my comment. I agree with him.

  • Marinka


    All sudden? Is she American? I would get Homeland Security involved.

  • Valerie


    Agree with Adam, but of the options you mentioned, "all of a sudden" is the way to go. I've never heard anyone say "all of the sudden" before–I'm in the DC area, but my folks are from Nebraska.

  • Melisa with one S


    I say "all of a sudden", though I think Adam is probably right. 🙂

    And BTW, I'm totally Midwestern but I NEVER say "The car needs washed." I say "the car needs TO BE washed". I think the elimination of "to be" is a southern-midwestern thing, not a northern-midwestern thing. I didn't think we had a N-S division, but we obviously do. 🙂

  • Mary


    I'm from Boston and I say "all of a sudden". I'm probably one of those people that makes you cringe though through my writing……sorry, kind of!

  • Mary


    I'm from Boston and I say "all of a sudden". I'm probably one of those people that makes you cringe though through my writing……sorry, kind of!

  • Jill


    I'm from Vermont and "all of a sudden" is what I use.

  • Sadia


    Can I claim my degrees in linguistics and be obnoxious? No? Well, what I love about commenting is that I get to be my own editor (though you can, of course, delete at will).

    In linguistics, we use the term "idiolect". A dialect describes the speech/register shared by some group of people, whether it's regional, national, tribal, whatever. An idiolect is an individual person's speech patterns and what sounds right to them. As you might imagine, having spent 8 years in the UK, 10 in Bangladesh, 4 in California, and 9 in Texas, I have a noticeably unique idiolect.

    All of this is to say, you're all right, in your own idiolect. You're all within your rights to claim that what others say sounds funny, because it's not your idiolect.

    And that's the linguist's answer. I say "all of a sudden", but who knows where that comes from? My daughters say "suddenly". Well, Mel says "suddenwy".

  • Avitable


    Sadia, so if someone says something that's patently wrong, it's acceptable in his or her own idiolect?

    Like, if someone says "for all intensive purposes" because it sounds right to them, even if that's due to ignorance?

  • WebSavvyMom


    –>I say "all of a sudden" and I grew up in metropolitan DC with a dad from Ohio and a Canadian mom.

    ~deb

  • abby


    My family (from MI) says "the" to add to the white-trashiness of the phrase. We would never preface anything with that phrase unless we were trying to play up our white-trash heritage, in which case, we'd need to wrong it up even more. The same is true for "a whole nother." Ex. "All of the sudden a whole nother possum came from nowhere, so we cooked that one up too."

    But, despite being midwesterners, we Michiganders always use "to be." I had never heard "The car needs washed" until I moved to Ohio.

  • MidLifeMama


    It would appear if you say something enough, it sounds stupid no matter how you say it. The word "sudden" is ridiculous when you break that phrase down. I am an "all of a sudden" person myself.

  • Hockeymandad


    I agree with Adam's first comment as well.

  • wm


    I'd say you are right. Though suddenly is a more concise compromise.

  • Andrea


    Yep! I say it the same way you do. So it MUST be right 😉

  • Monica


    I have to go with Amy here. All of THE sudden. Or Avitable. I love language disputes! But it kills me when people say "irregardless." Just kills me.

  • Tom


    I'm with the "all of a sudden" crowd, though "suddenly" is more correcter.

    Several of my employees regularly use the mid-western contraction "needs fixed" which drives me IN FREAKING SANE, and despite my best grammatical arguments they continue.

    But that's a whole nother discussion.

  • Mr Lady


    I really love it when you show us a side of your versatility, Momo. 🙂

  • unmitigated me


    All of a sudden is the original one. Leaving out the "to be" is not typical to southern Michigan, but it is to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern Michigan.

    Adam – maybe that's why it's called an "idio" lect. They just left out a letter?

    My sixth graders, without exception, will tell me to come watch them play a sport, wherein they are "versing" another team. Their coaches say it, to.

  • UP


    I agree with you on this line…"when they see my run-on sentences, my poor punctuation and my-over-use-of-hyphens, but I don't have to type right if I don't want to"…It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to! Me loves me hyphens, and as to "all of a sudden", Adam is correct, and so are you. They are both accepted in 'society' (Sorry, just had to get the quotes in there). Keep it UP!!

    UP

  • Sócrates Newbold


    Us Brits, this one in particular say: all of a sudden.

    However if you're from Yorkshire, preposition is unimportant. You'd probably say: all of sudden like.

  • Mr Lady


    Oh, and Adam, "Intensive Purposes" is merely a mispronunciation, whereas all of the/a sudden (I think) falls under the umbrella of Idiom, maybe even colloquial metaphor (also, I think). Kind of like 'yous guys' is horrible, awful grammar but is completely acceptable in South Philly/South Jersey/North Delaware as proper speech. The south has Y'all…a different version of the same thing. The a vs. the argument is going to come down to region and culture.

    I think.

  • Jason


    Considering I only live a few hours from you Momo, I say things exactly the same way you do. "all of a sudden" and "the car needs washed(or more aptly in my case, the lawn needs mowed)" Though…one thing that annoys my cousins from Cleveland about those of us from the southern part of the state is the fact that instead of saying "washed" we say "warshed" I have no idea where the "r" sound comes in from but it's definitely there. Oh yeah, I tend to run on sentence like crazy too…

  • C (Kid Things)


    All of a sudden, definitely. I'm from the midwest and I think I'd laugh at someone if they said all the sudden. It doesn't even make sense.

  • Colleen - Mommy Always Wins


    Dude, I'm from the Midwest (WI) and I've never heard anyone say something like "The car needs washed."

    But we say "All of a sudden." Never heard any of the other options.

    Maybe your friends are just weird. That's a very distinct possibility! 😉

  • Momo Fali


    This is fun! Mostly because the majority agrees with me.

    Colleen, my friends are weird. That's why I like them. Hell, that's why I like you.

    "The car needs washed" must be an Ohio thing. I say stuff like that all the time, though I admit I'm trying to quit. I wonder if they make a patch for that.

  • Karen


    I was pondering this post, when all of a sudden it came to me: the proper use would be "suddenly". Irregardless, I remain comfortable in my own idiolect. Great post.

  • Mr Lady


    My family all says, "The X needs X." We all also inject R's into washed, and water is always wudder.

    I think it's a blend of New York and Southern dialects.

  • stefanie


    The formerly corn-fed Iowan in me says it more like 'allah-vasudden'. I suppose that translates to 'all of a sudden'. I always say 'to be' when talking about what needs to be done, and it drives me crazy that our kids' teachers (we live near Philly) say things like, "When you're done your homework…" WHERE'S THE WITH? The regional 'going down the shore' or 'sleeping over Kathryn's house' gives me the shivers.

    My nanny-nanny-boo-boo is punctuation, especially commas and apostrophes. I'm too old to learn or care. So there.

    Love your blog. I was one of your devoted lurkers. Allah-vasudden, I'm done that.

  • Lynn @ Walking With Scissors


    I'm such a sheltered little Canadian girl. I've never heard anything but "all of a sudden", so that's what I'm going with.

  • meleah rebeccah


    You are 100% right. It's "All of a sudden".

  • Oscar


    I am an awful typist, you saw today on S-WOW. I use word to write my posts then copy/paste to my blog. It would say you are correct. I agree. You can say the car needs a wash

    Given th elanguage skills of a lot of peeps out there, We're literature masters.

    Fun semi-chatting!

  • Zoeyjane


    Adam wins, sort of. First choice is Suddenly, second, All of the sudden. But I'm Canadian, so I think y'all completely butchered the English language. 😉

  • Amie


    Hi yourself. Putting on my copy editor's hat and taking my red pen in hand, I would insert an article if one was lacking, and/or change "the" to "a."

    You can expect my invoice by month-end.

  • Tim O


    Well, I am from Ohio, lived there a long time and traveled a good bit around the area and the East coast. I have NEVER heard anyone say "all of a sudden". And though it is the most popular answer, frankly it sounds weird to me. I have always heard it, "all of the sudden."

    Having lived then in North Carolina and Hawaii, I have heard very different manners of speaking and varied opinions about the different grammar and means of communication. The key is though, it's just communication. As long as you get what is being intended, who cares what the words are, or if they are grammatically correct according to someones rules? Right speech is simply a matter of opinion. Communication between people transcends any rules of right and wrong yea?

  • Mum-me


    I say "all of a sudden". I am Australian, but my mum was born in San Francisco, and her parents were both from PA.

    Can someone tell me this? When it's an issue I am not interested in I say "I couldn't care less." Meaning, "I could not care less about this issue. I am just not interested."

    But when reading many US bloggers, I find they often say "I could care less" in the same context. But said that way, it comes across to me as if they actually care about the topic but wish they could care less about it.

    Confused?

  • mrsmouthy


    All of the sudden I think I've been saying it wrong all my life. (Or is it all of my life)?

    At any rate, I'm not a good one to ask, as I grew up hearing things like, "Go warsh your hands," and "What see" (instead of "Let's see").

  • The Urban Cowboy


    All a sudden like!

  • lolli


    Definitely all of a sudden. Pronounced "uh." I don't think all the sudden makes sense at all, and adding the of doesn't really help. So therefore I'm going with you're right.

  • SurprisedMom


    It's "all of a sudden."

    I asked The Mister his thoughts and he said, "suddenly." Smarty pants. Then he got serious and seconded my opinion, "all of a sudden."

    I'm from Chicago and I think that's considered Midwestern. . . 🙂

  • BossSanders


    All of a sudden.
    Clearly. 🙂

  • Anonymous


    what's wrong with the sentence the car needs washed? and yes…I'm in Ohio. lol

  • NukeDad


    Being from the border in Texas, I'd have to go with "Mira! de repente muchos tacos!" (Look! Suddenly there are many tacos!)But that's probably a biased view.

    I've always said all of THE sudden, as did most of us in EP. Up here in NC it's more "right about then"

    I've never heard "The car needs washed", I always Shakespeare it up and add the "to be"

    Texas: "The coach needs TO BE given a raise"

    Ohio: "The coach needs fired"

    See?

  • AlisonH


    All of a sudden (this conveys surprise in a way that "suddenly" doesn't quite capture) the car needs to be washed.

    Which begs the question–so what did that kid do *now*?!

    Third generation English major here, grew up in the Maryland suburbs of DC in a political family where using correct language was considered very, very important. So what do I do now? I write my blog like I talk, with a dash of southern-city DC in there–witness the use of the word "sirs" last night as an honorific, then realizing afterwards that Californians tend not to like it, to think it means I'm calling them old. Oops.

    But if I use a whole 'nother word for it, it is by golly going to have that properly-placed apostrophe!

  • WeaselMomma


    I have to agree with you on this one Momo. All of a sudden is the proper grammar.

  • Jennifer


    Texas weighing in – all of a sudden, y'all. 🙂

  • Davina


    Sorry Bean and Amy – I'm going to agree with Momo! OH and I called me MIL who is an English Teacher.

  • Mrs4444


    I say "All of the sudden," too, and now I realize how stupid that sounds. (sorry Amy!) I'm going with "suddenly" from now on.

  • DawnA


    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sudden
    Shows "all of a sudden". The internet gods have spoken.

  • Jared


    Definitely…All Of "uh" Sudden.

    Do you end your sentences in prepositions too?

    Where are my keys at?
    Which department is she in?
    That's where it's at.

    I've heard this is an Ohio/Midwestern thing…

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