Friday, April 01, 2022

All of a Sudden

This morning I started a sentence in my journal with "All of a sudden," and I remembered a moment when I handed my mother a story I'd written. I used the phrase a lot in my story, but I wrote it "all of the sudden." My mother corrected my usage. "It's all of a sudden, not the." I was stunned, and a little confused. What difference did it make, really? A. The. They were both articles, signifying a noun up ahead. Was sudden a noun? An adjective? I learned the phrase was an idiom, which sounded too close to idiot for me. 

All of a sudden was a favorite phrase of mine, and it still is. As someone who feels like everything in life is happening all at once, it works. All of a sudden, my pen ran out of ink. All of a sudden, the ducks were in the road. All of a sudden, my fake mustache peeled off and fell into my coffee with a fuzzy plorp.

Everything is a surprise with all of a sudden. An unexpected delight (or not).

It turns out we've been using "of a sudden" since Shakespeare first coined it in The Taming of the Shrew. "Is it possible That love should of a sodaine take hold? (antiquated spelling alert!) Sudden has been used as an adjective since the 15th century, and it was once a noun, too, meaning "that which is sudden." Today the noun form is obsolete, except in the phrase "all of a sudden."  

What a gem! 

All of a sudden, the word sudden is no longer a noun.

All of a sudden, thanks to Mom, a memory, and the internet, I know a little more.

No comments: