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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 1st, 2016, 08:52 am
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Default surprised

Hi,

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.

Thanks.

Last edited by fface : Jul 10th, 2016 at 08:14 am.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 1st, 2016, 10:39 am
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Default 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.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 1st, 2016, 11:19 pm
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Default Re: surprised

Hi sidewalker,

Thank you for your reply. What is the difference in meaning between them?
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 2nd, 2016, 06:46 am
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Default Re: surprised

For your two examples there is no difference in meaning.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 3rd, 2016, 06:10 am
Sue
 
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Default 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.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 7th, 2016, 09:08 am
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Default Re: surprised

Quote:
Quote fface View Post

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.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 8th, 2016, 07:55 am
Sue
 
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Default 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
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