A few weeks ago I was talking to my mom about grammar—that's life as a McDonald—and she mentioned a pet peeve. She said it drives her crazy when people say "all the sudden." As in:
I was about to dive in a pool of Jell-O when all the sudden the pool filter turned on and spewed it all over the yard and the house and the dog.
"Sure," I thought. "That's annoying, but it's probably not prevalent. My mom goes to work with the same group of quirky, lovable people every day. It must be a work culture thing."
Then, two weeks later, I heard it in context.
I'm on her side now.
Now, if I'd heard it in passing conversation, or if someone said it to me, I probably wouldn't be writing this.
...strong emphasis on probably.
Thing is, I didn't hear it in passing conversation: I heard it on an instructional video for Google AdWords. We watched a video from lynda.com in marketing class (lovely website, by the way, and a fountain of knowledge), and I almost missed it. But I'm sure I heard "the" and not "of a". It was something like, "You might pay for a word one week, and then all the sudden you don't want it any more. The good news is, you can change your words any time!"
Alarm bells! It must be worse than I thought.
Remember, this isn't two people talking by the water cooler, this is an educational video. Shouldn't they know better? Sure, the video might help you be better with AdWords, but it isn't doing your vocabulary any favours. Did somebody see it and not know? Or see it and not care? Mom might be right: this is pretty bad.
So let's clear things up. For the first and only time: the expression is all of a sudden. Try looking up "all of the sudden" or "all the sudden" on Merriam Webster. Really, try it.
No results, right?
Right. Because it isn't a thing.