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All 'in' a sudden / 'of' a sudden

Discussion in 'English Only' started by QueniB, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. QueniB New Member

    Mexican Spanish
    Is the expression "all in a sudden" grammatically correct? I want to use "all of a sudden" but the author (neither of us is a native English speaker) insists on the first option. The meaning remains the same (suddenly). Is it a matter of using the correct preposition (in/off)?
     
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I have only heard "all of a sudden".
     
  3. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
  4. QueniB New Member

    Mexican Spanish
    As for the links, I've checked them before but couldn't find the answer to this particular question. That's what prompted me to join the forum! I know the correct expression is "all of a sudden" but can't answer my friend's question...is "all in a sudden" grammatically correct? Maybe I'm missing something...I don't know. Thanks for the welcome...:)
     
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Unless something is an established idiom, a preposition like "in" has to refer something you can be "in," i.e. taken literally.

    I don't see that the adjective "sudden" fits that requirement.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  6. QueniB New Member

    Mexican Spanish
    Thank you...now I understand!
     
  7. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    Well, the word "sudden" is not always an adjective. It is a noun in archaic usage meaning "an abrupt occurrence or the occasion of such an occurrence". Obviously it is used as a noun in the idiom "all of a sudden" (The indefinite article "a" modifies a noun).

    I think the person who insisted on saying "all in a sudden" was trying to say "all happening in a sudden manner". And there is an idiom for that--"all of a sudden". :D
     
  8. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    In "all of a sudden" sudden is, indeed, a noun and since it is still current it is not archaic. The alternative adverbial phrases that use it are listed in the OED and are
    on or upon a (or the) sudden (archaic)
    at a (or the) sudden (obsolete)
    in a sudden (obsolete)
    for a sudden (obsolete)
    on (upon, with) such a sudden (obsolete)
    of (upon) this sudden (obsolete)
    upon a very great sudden (obsolete)
    in great sudden (obsolete)

    That should have exhausted this topic :rolleyes:
     
  9. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I don't think we should give the impression that the collocation "in a sudden" is forbidden in modern English. Given a suitable context, it is acceptable provided 'sudden' is used as an adjective.

    Example

    The worsening weather resulted in a sudden change of heart on the part of the explorers.


    However I agree with the others that we must use 'of a' when 'sudden' is a noun.
     
  10. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Building on from Biffo's point, there are certainly contexts in which the group of words "all in a sudden" would be grammatically correct:

    The crowd stampeded thoughtlessly through the aisles, all in a sudden rush towards the exits.

    But I cannot think of a phrase where "all in a sudden" would stand alone (instead of "all in a sudden [noun]") and sound good in today's English.
     
  11. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    True, yet none of those options are what the OP listed as his particular context. Only "of a sudden" could work in his scenario......
     
  12. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    We actually haven't yet seen the context in which the OP found the phrase. Hey, that reminds me...
     
  13. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    The preposition "of" in the following phrases seems to have the same function:

    of a high stature (e.g., "And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest...")
    of a feather (e.g., "Birds of a feather flock together")
    all of a piece (e.g., "Willner edited the music to make the different parts seem all of a piece")
    all of a sudden

    What puzzles me is that "all of a sudden" serves as an adverbial rather than the typical adjectival associated with the "of" construction (Note: "Of a high stature", "of a feather", and "all of a piece" are adjectival, modifying a noun). Anyone has an explanation for that?
     
  14. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I don't see these as the same. 2 and 3 are different because 'a' can be replaced by 'one' or 'the same'. This is not true for 1 and 4.

    Here's what I mean

    Birds of a feather flock together ---> Birds of one feather flock together ---> Birds of the same feather flock together :tick:

    Willner edited the music to make the different parts seem all of a piece ---> Willner edited the music to make the different parts seem all of one piece ---> Willner edited the music to make the different parts seem all of the same piece :tick:

    a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest ---> a young man of one high stature, taller than all the rest ---> a young man of the same high stature, taller than all the rest :cross:

    all of a sudden the music started ---> all of one sudden the music started ---> all of the same sudden the music started :cross:

    I think you have over-generalised Skatinginbc :)

    _______________________________________________
    NOTE
    It might be worth starting a new thread on this topic as it does not relate specifically to 'sudden'
     
  15. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    Your analysis pertains to the meaning of "a", but I was talking about the function of "of" in those phrases. Sorry if I failed to get my point across.
     
  16. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    Although the idiom is current, I'm not sure if "sudden" as a noun is still productive. Let's put it to test:

    A: "This development is not an abrupt occurrence but a process in stages."
    B: "This development is not a sudden but a process in stages."

    Does B sound natural to you?
     
  17. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    No, it would not make sense to me. Any expression containing "sudden" as a noun dates from an earlier time and is fixed.
     
  18. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    No it does not, but that is a pointless exercise. Sudden still exists as a noun in adverbial phrases. That it is no longer used as a noun standing alone is irrelevant to its continuing existence, in everyday modern English, as a noun. Some of its uses and meanings are archaic or obsolete, but it is hardly alone in that.

    By the way, why has the conversation drifted off into various other constructions such as adjectival phrases using words other than sudden?
    Ah well, I tried. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  19. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Yes, Andygc's post 8 has provided a full answer with the authority of the OED.
    The adverbial phrase 'all of a sudden' is correct current English.
    'All in a sudden', like other alternative forms, is not.
     
  20. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    "Drifting off" by your standard. It is a question concerning the function of "of" in "all of a sudden". Without explaining the function of "of", how do you expect a non-native speaker to understand the syntax of the idiom?

    To me, "archaic" means "having the characteristics of the language of the past and surviving chiefly in specialized uses". I proved that "sudden" as a noun is a feature of the past and surviving only in the fixed expression "all of a sudden". Of course, you may disagree with my criteria and have a discussion about them. That a Mod quickly labeled an opinion "pointless" certainly amazed me, a new member of the forum.

    << --- Comment deleted. --- >>
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013

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