eslHQ (
-   English Questions (
-   -   surprised (

fface Jul 1st, 2016 07:52 am


What is the difference between surprised to and surprised at in the examples below?

I'm surprised to see you here. (from a dictionary)
I'm surprised at seeing you here.


sidewalker Jul 1st, 2016 09:39 am

Re: surprised
Surprised can be followed by a verb (to + infintive), or by a noun - surprised at + noun, in your example you use the gerund seeing which is really just a verb in a noun form. You could also say surprised at the weather, surprised at the result, etc.

fface Jul 1st, 2016 10:19 pm

Re: surprised
Hi sidewalker,

Thank you for your reply. What is the difference in meaning between them?

sidewalker Jul 2nd, 2016 05:46 am

Re: surprised
For your two examples there is no difference in meaning.

susan53 Jul 3rd, 2016 05:10 am

Re: surprised
Just a note - "at" is a preposition - which is why it must be followed by a noun phrase or gerund. So as Sidewalker says there's no difference in meaning, just a difference in the construction. Sometimes the verb is actuallytredundant, giving the option of all three :
I was surprised to hear the news
I was surprised at hearing the news
I was surprised at the news

- but there might be times when there is no possible verb construction - eg :

I was surprised at the weather. I didn't expect it to be so cold in July.
I was surprised at the price. I had expected it to be much more expensive.

so that the preposition + noun phrase construction is the only one possible.

"at" is also often followed by "wh" clause - especially begining with "how": Compare :

I was surprised at his words.
I was surprised at what he said

I was surprised at the weather
I was surprised at how cold it was.

I was surprised at the cost,
i was surprised at how cheap it was.

fface Jul 7th, 2016 08:08 am

Re: surprised

Quote fface (Post 88109)

I'm surprised to see you here? (from a dictionary)
I'm surprised at seeing you here?

Hi susan,

Which kind of construction is more common and why? surprised to see...or surprised at seeing...?

Thanks a lot.

susan53 Jul 8th, 2016 06:55 am

Re: surprised
to + infinitive

Using a corpus of 3m words, both US and UK English, I got the following results :

surprised to + infinitive : 16 occurrences
surprised at + gerund : 0 occurrences

surprised at plus other form of noun phrase eg with noun head or pronoun) : 18 occurrences

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:45 pm.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2