If you offer pie à la mode on your menu, be careful not to spell it “ala mode” or—worse—“alamode.” The accent over the first “a” is optional in English, although this is an adaptation of the French phrase à la mode de meaning “in the manner of.” The one-word spelling used to be common, but as people became more sensitive to preserving the spelling of originally French phrases, it fell out of favor. In whose manner is it to plop ice cream on your pie? Nobody really knows, but it’s yummy. Stick with the two-word spelling in all other uses of the phrase à la as well.
Paul Brians' latest blog post ponders developments in the evolution of the expression "it's sad."
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