6

What should I consider when choosing between these phrases:

suffice to say

it suffices to say

suffice it to say

I don't know about the second and third one but I can speculate that the first one ("suffice to say") is not obsolete, at least in the USA. For instance, in an episode of the TV series, Dexter, there is a conversation that goes like this:

[Dexter]: Deb found out what I am. She knows everything.

[Dr. Vogel]: Everything? How?

[Dexter]: It's a long story. Just suffice to say she's not handling it well.

So, I assume in similar situations it would be safe to use the phrase "suffice to say", yet I don't know when I'd need to switch to another alternative (after all, I don't like to mess with the Mr. Potato Head!).

1

All of the forms are valid, and in common usage in English.

"It suffices to say" and "suffice it to say" are the same, just with a word-order inversion for stylistic purposes. "Suffice it to say" is more old-fashioned, but it seems to be coming back into fashion (since about the mid 1950s), and is now more common than the word ordering "it suffices to say" in both American and British English.

"Suffice to say" is also valid; in this case the "it" has merely been elided, and in my experience is more common in speech, whereas "suffice it to say" is more common in writing.

The following is an NGram that shows that all of the forms are relatively common, and you will be widely understood by native English speakers whichever form you happen to choose.

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  • 4
    Google Ngrams is case sensitive, so if you want to match these phrases at the beginning of a sentence, you should capitalize the first letter of each n-gram. Look how different the results are when you do so: books.google.com/ngrams/… Suffice it to say is the clear winner if you happen to be talking about the beginning of a sentence. – snailcar Aug 14 '13 at 4:47
  • -1 for "'It suffices to say' and 'suffice it to say' are the same, just with a word-order inversion for stylistic purposes". "Suffice it to say" is using the subjunctive: literally, it means roughly "Let it suffice to say". (Cf. "The king lives long" vs. "Long live the king".) The choice of subjunctive vs. indicative may be stylistic, but once that choice is made, the choice of word order is forced. – ruakh Aug 18 '13 at 18:52
  • Also, -1 for not fixing your answer after snailboat showed that it was wrong. If we plot capitalized and uncapitalized versions on the same graph, it's clear that "suffice it to say" has continuously been the most common variant for at least two hundred years. (N.B. I can only downvote you once, so this -1 is actually the same as the previous -1.) – ruakh Aug 18 '13 at 18:54
1

I think you'll always be better off saying "suffice it to say". Options 1 and 2 seem quite odd to my ear, though at least option 1 could be considered ellipsis. There's a helpful article on the topic here.

  • When trying to determine the season, snow and darkness suffice to say that it is currently winter. – Daniel Aug 13 '13 at 20:23
  • @Daniel Certainly, something (or some combination of things) might "suffice to say" anything. You're replacing the "it" in those instances. In these words' idiomatic, interjected use as a phrase (as in Nate's question), "it" is understood to mean "the following statement" and is generally not (meaningfully) omitted (though it might, as I said, be elided). – Tyler James Young Aug 13 '13 at 21:00
0

The only form that makes grammatical sense is "it suffices to say". The other forms may be in general use, but that doesn't make them correct; example: "ain't".

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